Geoff DeMuth and Marti Bonne-Demuth live in Crystal Lake, IL, with their three cats and cockatiel.
Way back when I was in my early 20’s, I was convinced to join a rag-tag group of friends to take a ride in a decrepit Winnebago from Chicago to New Orleans, to stay a week and witness the celebration of Mardi Gras. The ensuing happy mayhem left its mark on me and I forever became enamored of the culture, music and cuisine of the Crescent City. I’ve been back so often that I do believe that I’m a part-time Yat. So now let’s roll up our sleeves, turn up The Meters and John Cleary soundtrack and make one of the iconic Creole comfort dishes of the Big Easy.
Shrimp Etouffee Recipe
The stock is the soul of the sauce and I always buy shell-on shrimp to use in the stock. There is a local Mexican grocery market nearby that sells head-on shrimp here and the layer of fat behind the heads make for a flavorful rich stock.
The shells, heads and tails from 3 lbs. of Shrimp
1 Chopped Onion
2 Chopped Ribs of Celery
4 Garlic Cloves
1 Lemon sliced
4 Bay Leaves
1 Tbsp Thyme
2 Tbsp Black Peppercorns
Add all the ingredients to a large 8 qt. stock pot. Cover with cold water, about 8-10 cups. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to a medium simmer. Simmer uncovered for 45 minutes to an hour. It will reduce during this period so make sure that there are at least 4 cups left. Strain the stock and put aside.
You can use Chef Paul’s or Tony Chachere’s Creole Seasoning, but I like to make my own.
1/3 Cup Smoked Paprika
1/4 Cup Granulated Garlic
4 Tbsp Onion Powder
1/3 Cup freshly ground Black Pepper
3 Tbsp White Pepper
2 Tbsp Cayenne Pepper
2 Tbsp Dried Thyme
2 Tbsp Dried Basil
I Tbsp Dried Oregano
Mix and store in an airtight jar.
3 Tbsp Creole Seasoning
6 Tbsp Unsalted Butter
1 Medium Onion, Finely Chopped
2 Large Celery Ribs, Finely Chopped
1 Green Bell Pepper or ½ Green Bell Pepper and ½ Sweet Red Pepper, Finely Chopped
1/2 Cup Flour
1-1/2 Cups Fresh Tomatoes, Diced
3 Cups Shrimp Stock
4 Cloves Garlic, Minced
1 Tbsp Thyme
4 Tbsp Worcestershire Sauce
2 Tbsp Louisiana Hot Sauce ( I prefer Crystal or Trappy’s)
1 Cup Green Onions, Thinly Sliced
1/2 Cup Parsley, Finely Chopped
3 Lbs Medium Shrimp, Peeled and Deveined. Save the Shells, Tails (Heads if the shrimp are intact )
2 Tbsp Butter (Added at the end)
Season the Shrimp with 1-1/2 Tbsp of the Creole Seasoning and put aside.
Melt 6 Tbsp of butter in a large pot. I prefer a cast iron Dutch Oven because cast iron heats so evenly. Add the finely chopped onions, peppers and celery and sauté until translucent. Then whisk in the flour to make a blonde roux, stirring constantly for about 5 minutes.
Stir in the remaining Creole Seasoning. Add a small amount of the shrimp stock and stir well to make a paste then add the remaining stock, whisking constantly. Bring to a boil then reduce to a low simmer. The Etouffee should have the consistency of gravy, not too thick or thin. If it’s too thin, reduce over medium heat stirring occasionally. If it’s too thick, add more stock. Add the tomatoes, garlic, thyme, Worcestershire, Louisiana Hot Sauce to the pot. Add salt, black pepper and cayenne to taste. Simmer on low for 20 -30 mins. This is a good time to steam your rice.
Add the shrimp, green onions and parsley and simmer for about 10 minutes, until the shrimp are cooked through but not overcooked and rubbery. Stir in the remaining 2 Tbsp of butter and serve with cooked rice. Enjoy with a salad and some crusty bread and don’t forget to put on Allen Toussaint on the sound system.
Don’t dat look good, Cher?