By 300 Sandwiches
Sometimes, on those cold winter nights when E and I don’t feel like cooking, we could eat the same ol’ stale chicken or Seamless Web takeout, and sit at the kitchen counter or on the couch watching “CSI” reruns, inhaling our food and not even look up at each other. Well, except to say, “can you pass me a napkin?”
Why do that, when we can invite our charming Aussie neighbor over for dinner and laugh at his stories of weekend antics involving trapeze artists, getting lost in the wrong side of Brooklyn and the phrase, “I may or may not have been roofied last night”?
I wanted to do some Mardi Gras-inspired dishes this week, and this shrimp etouffee looked enticing. For a recipe, I turned to someone who really knows whassup on N’Awlins cooking:Emeril Lagasse.
It’s a risk to cook something new when company comes over, but anything involving simmering the dish in a big pot can’t end up but so bad. Depending on the ingredients, you can always throw some rosemary or cayenne pepper in there to mask any mistakes.
Our neighbor arrived for dinner with 1.) a mug that I loved from the hotel we all stayed at in Vermont a few weeks ago. 2.) truffled chocolate from Mast Brothers, and 3.) great stories. “So, remember when I saw you on the street the other day, at like 1 PM. Yeah, that was a walk of shame. From Cypress Hill.” (If you’re not from here, read some news stories about that neighborhood. MMmmYeah.)
I produced the shrimp entouffle as he entertained us. By the time dinner was over, I wondered how in the hell has our dear Aussie friend has himself not ended up as a plot on CSI? The next day, I wrapped the leftovers in a whole wheat wrap, and packed it for lunch for E and I.
(I adapted the recipe below for 4-5 people. I also used 1 1/2 pounds of jumbo shrimp , versus 3 pounds of medium shrimp. I might have had a higher sauce to shrimp ratio, but it was still tasty.)
1 1/2 pound shrimp, peeled and deveined (save the heads and shells for shrimp stock)
6 tablespoons butter
1/2 cup flour
2 1/2 cups onion, chopped
1 1/2 cups celery, chopped
1 green bell pepper, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 can diced tomatoes
2 bay leaves
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 cup shrimp stock
1/4 cup chopped parsley
2 tablespoons Emeril’s Essence:
(Emeril uses a cajun spice mix called Emeril’s Essence to flavor the etoufee. I used a similar mix. His calls for onion powder, but I omitted that)
2 tablespoons paprika
1 pinch sea salt
2 tablespoons garlic powder
1 tablespoon black pepper
1 tablespoon cayenne pepper
1 tablespoon dried oregano
1 tablespoon dried thyme
First, make Shrimp Stock:
1 quart of water
shells and heads from shrimp, throughly rinsed
1 coursely chopped carrot
1 coursely chopped celery stalk
1 coursely chopped onion
2 or 3 chopped garlic cloves
few springs time
sprinkle of pepper
Combine all in a tall stock pot, boil over low to medium heat for about 45 minutes while you prep the rest of the dish. Skim any foam from the top, and strain through a sieve into a large bowl or container. Let cool before using.
In a large Dutch oven, melt the butter, then add flour, and stir continuously until you make a roux. Cook the roux for about 5 to 7 minutes, until the roux is a golden brown color. Then, add onions, celery, bell peppers and garlic to the roux. Stir occasionally and cook for 10 minutes. Then, stir in tomatoes. Then add the bay leaves, salt and cayenne pepper. Then, stir in a tablespoon of Emeril’s spices. Stir to combine and cook for about 3 minutes. Then whisk in about a cup of shrimp stock. Bring the mixture to a boil, and reduce to a simmer. Let simmer on low heat for 45 minutes.
Season the shrimp with another tablespoon of Essence. In a separate skillet, cook the shrimp for about 5 minutes, stirring to evenly distribute. Then, add to étouffée. Add chopped parsley to the pot and stir to combine. Ready!
For dinner, serve immediately over steamed white or brown rice.
For sandwiches, take a piece of flatbread and lay flat on workable surface. Layer on rice, then shrimp etouffee, then top with greens. Fold bread from top and bottom inward, then fold sides inward. Flip over, cut in half and serve.
Emeri’s original Shrimp Etouffee recipe is here.by