Today’s dinner recipe comes from a beloved Junior League of Lake Charles, Louisiana cookbook called Pirate’s Pantry. This book was originally published in 1976, and we’ve had it in our family for about that long.
Amazingly, it’s still available for purchase from Amazon. This book is not actually in my collection, it’s in my mother’s, but I figure it counts since it’s all in the family.
Mom had been craving shrimp in some form or another, so we started pouring through our respective cookbooks looking for something that featured the crustacean at the forefront. We talked about Shrimp Etouffe, Shrimp Jambalaya, Boiled Shrimp, Fried Shrimp (then we started reminiscing about Forrest Gump), and finally settled on Shrimp Creole.
The recipe is deceptively simple. It doesn’t seem, from the ingredients list, that it will taste like much of anything except tomato soup with a lot of onion and celery thrown in; however, once it simmers for a while and the shrimp are allowed to impart their flavor to the gravy, it becomes wonderfully complex in its flavor profile.
Begin by making a roux – 4 tablespoons flour and 4 tablespoons vegetable shortening. Cook it, stirring constantly, until it turns a rich brown color.
Meanwhile, chop one large onion, 1/2 cup of celery, 1/4 cup of green bell pepper, 1 clove of garlic and 6-8 green onions. Once the roux reaches the desire color, add the vegetables to stop the cooking.
To this mixture add one 8 oz. can of tomato sauce, 8 oz. of water and one tablespoon of Worcestershire sauce. Allow it to simmer for 30 minutes.
Bring the mixture to a boil and add 3-4 pounds of shrimp, salt and pepper to taste. Cover and let boil until the shrimp are cooked through. Serve over rice.
I kept thinking it was going to need some herbs or other seasoning, but it absolutely didn’t. Besides the peeling of the shrimp and the chopping of the vegetables, this was one of the simplest and most flavorful dishes I’ve made in a long time. The shrimp were definitely at the forefront, as they imparted their flavor to the gravy without being overpowered by the subtle flavors of the classical Louisiana holy trinity.
3-4 pounds of shrimp, peeled and deveined
1 large onion, diced
1/2 cup celery, diced
1/4 cup green bell pepper, diced
1 clove garlic, minced
6-8 green onions, chopped
1 8 oz. can tomato sauce
8 oz. water
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
salt and pepper to taste