Actually, it's been fat Saturday, Sunday, Monday... sheesh. This is what I get for trying to be topical in my blogging -- cooking for Mardi Gras.
I feel compelled to celebrate such a worthy occasion, even though I am not Catholic, nor am I a reveler who gets drunk in the streets and flashes my boobs for beads -- because to me it is simply a food holiday, and I like to celebrate those. National Donut Day? There. National Banana Bread Day? Of course! (It's February 23 BTW.)
So, come Mardi Gras, I head to my New Orleans-inspired recipes, because that's my favorite food for this holiday.
Up for dinner: Shrimp Etouffee and Bananas Foster Bread Pudding. Get yer difiberlators out and charge 'em up.
The Shrimp Etouffee is a glorious thing -- it's rich and spicy (not overly so, just a pleasant heat that lingers like the heating pad I have under my covers to warm my tootsies on cold nights). And it's pretty quick to come together.
The first step in putting together an Etouffee is to make a roux, which is butter and flour cooked together. Roux comes in many stages of coloring, from blond to brick, which is achieved by the cooking time. This recipe calls for a "peanut butter" roux -- which means exactly how it sounds. Your roux should be cooked until it is the color of peanut butter:
This can happen pretty quickly -- I think mine took all of 15 to 20 minutes to get this color. You have to watch it carefully and stir often... but it is magic to watch the colors turn!
Once the roux has reached the desired color, it's time to add the "Holy Trinity." In traditional French cooking, many recipes start off with a base of mire poix, which is diced onion, celery, and carrot. In Creole cooking, the carrot is replaced with green bell pepper... another food item The Bodyguard isn't fond of... and look at me, gettin' ready to serve him a heaping bowl of it:
Oh well... we have already agreed I am the "dom" in the kitchen, so I do what I want, and hopefully he'll like it. ;)
So, once the roux is ready, you dump the Holy Trinity in and stir it around in the roux and cook it a little bit.
Don't be afraid of the bottom browning up a bit -- you actually want that because that is where all of the flavor is! Don't let it burn, but getting it nice and brown is actually a really great thing:
Once you add the remaining ingredients (aside from the shrimp), you won't care that it takes about 45 minutes to simmer because the house will smell so damn good. It's absolute heaven!
One note: the original recipe called for making your own shrimp stock, which I would have loved to do, but I didn't have whole shrimp or even shrimp with shells on -- just the tail bit. So, I cheated and used 2 cups of homemade vegetable stock and two cans of something I have never seen before: clam stock. I've seen bottled clam juice, but never this:
It was really good and did the trick. I would imagine that bottled clam juice would also work in the same proportions.
Do try this recipe -- you won't regret it. Until Ash Wednesday, anyway.
Adapted from New New Orleans Cooking by Emeril Lagasse
6 tablespoons butter
1/2 cup flour
4 cups chopped onions
2 cups chopped green pepper
2 cups chopped celery
2 tablespoons minced garlic
1 14oz can of diced tomatoes [TTT: I like the original Ro-Tel]
2 bay leaves
2 teaspoons of salt
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
2 tablespoons creole seasoning [TTT: I make my own -- see below]
1 quart shrimp stock [TTT: I used 2 cups homemade vegetable stock and 2 cans of the aforementioned clam stock]
2 pounds medium shrimp (21 - 25 count), peeled and deveined if needed
1/4 cup chopped parsley
Steamed white rice
1/2 cup thinly sliced green onion
Melt the butter in a large Dutch oven set over medium heat. Add the flour and stir continuously to make a roux. Stir the roux over medium heat until the color of peanut butter, 5 to 7 minutes. Add the onions, bell peppers, celery, and garlic to the roux, and cook, stirring often, for 10 minutes. Add the tomatoes to the pot and season with the bay leaves, salt, cayenne, and 1 tablespoon of Creole seasoning. Cook the tomatoes for 2 to 3 minutes and then whisk in the shrimp stock or whatever liquids you choose.
Bring the mixture to a boil, and reduce to a simmer. Cook the etouffee, stirring occasionally, for 45 minutes. Season the shrimp with the remaining tablespoon of Creole seasoning and add them to the pot, stirring to evenly distribute. Cook the shrimp for 5 to 7 minutes, or until they are cooked through. Add the chopped parsley to the pot and stir to combine.
Serve immediately over steamed white rice and garnish with sliced green onion tops.
2 1/2 tablespoons paprika
2 tablespoons salt
2 tablespoons garlic powder
1 tablespoon celery salt
1 tablespoon black pepper
1 tablespoon onion powder
1 tablespoon cayenne pepper
1 tablespoon dried oregano
1 tablespoon dried thyme
1/2 teaspoon allspice
And don't worry: I'll put up the recipe for the Bananas Foster Bread Pudding tomorrow! Can't overdo it in one day, right?!