There’s a definite change in the air. I know because I haven’t heard the on-click of my air conditioner in days.
I thought, for a solid thirty seconds or so… that I was cold. Down here in the swamp, there’s just that tiny bit of chill in the air and there’s more to come we just know it.
There’s also a definite change in my kitchen. Maybe it’s because I’ve been in New Orleans for some good years, maybe it’s because I’m paying a mortgage instead of rent… maybe maybe maybe I’m just starting to FEEL IT deep down in my guts… but I’m just starting to feel comfortable cooking cajun + creole food in my kitchen.
Here’s the thing: there are 1,001 places to get amazing Creole food around the city. We’re talking classic places that know exactly what they’re doing, exactly how to make a perfect martini, exactly how to summon an actual marching jazz band to shine through the restaurant at just the right time. (I’m talking about Galatoire’s and you really must go!)
Here’s the other things: It’s sometimes hard to nail down just the right recipe. A recipe that you can hold in your hands and say… yea, this is it! That’s because, as with most special, regional cuisine… it has a lot to do with who taught you and how it feels. When you don’t have a Louisiana grandmother to show you the ropes you have to improvise and the classic Brennan’s New Orleans Cookbook isn’t a bad place to get started. The flavors are simple but layered and it all starts with an onion, a bell pepper and some celery. The rest is a combination of time, spice, shrimp, laughter, fluffy rice and good company.
Also important: What’s the difference between Cajun and Creole? Tomatoes v. nooooo tomatoes. City v. country. Delicious v. delicious.
Here’s my version of Shrimp Creole. Heavily influences by Brennan’s (a classic, to be sure), with an extra kick from jalapeno and vegetable broth.
Creole cooking… the base, the roots, the floor of everything is the Trinity: onions, green bell peppers, and celery.
That’s where we start. Adding fresh garlic and fresh (seeded) jalapeno for an extra layer of spice just because because.
The Trinity+ is sauteed to soft, and fresh tomatoes are added.
Canned tomatoes? Sure, you could. A big can of tomatoes would do ya.
Let’s get these spices going.
We’ll start with sweet paprika.
I added an all-purpose Creole Seasoning that has salt, pepper, garlic and onion powder, a little bit of oregano, a little bit of spice… just a lot of very good news.
Spicy cayenne pepper to balance out the earthy sweetness.
Vegetable broth to thin the mixture to a soup and help the tomatoes cook down to soft and pliable.
To the simmered tomato mixture goes the raw peeled shrimp.
To thicken the tomatoe-y sauce just slightly, we’ll mix a few spoonfuls of the simmering mixture in a small bowl with cornstarch. Back into the shrimp mixture boil a bit and thicken slightly.
Shrimp is cooked to a soft pink and the Shrimp Creole is spooned generously into bowls and served with a cup of rice and green onions. It’s fresh and warm and comforting and pleasingly Louisiana. Between soup and not-soup, sweet and hearty and spicy. that’s right!Print
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 cup diced green bell pepper
- 1 cup diced yellow onion
- 1 cup chopped celery
- 2 cloves minced garic
- 1/2 a jalapeno, de-seeded and minced
- 3 heaping cups diced fresh tomatoes, some seeds squeezed out, coarsely diced
- 2 teaspoons paprika
- 1 teaspoon Creole seasoning
- 1/2 teaspoon cayene pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon salt, or to taste
- 3 cups vegetable or chicken stock
- 1 bay leaf
- 2 pounds raw shrimp, peeled and deveined
- 2 tablespoons cornstarch
- Cooked fluffy white rice
- In a large saucepan over medium heat olive oil. Add the bell pepper, onion, and celery and saute for 6 minutes, until some of the water cooks out and the vegetables begin to brown, Add garlic and jalapeno and saute for 2 minutes more.
- Add the tomatoes and stir to combine. Cook down for 5 to 7 minutes.
- Stir in the paprika, cayenne, and salt. Stir to combine.
- Add the broth and bay leaf and simmer for 30 minutes, uncovered.
- Add the shrimp and cook for 12 minutes more.
- Place cornstarch in a small bowl. Use a ladle to spoon some shrimp creole liquid to the cornstarch and whisk until smooth. Add the mixture to the simmering pot and simmer for 3 minutes more until thickened slightly.
- Serve over hot fluffy rice and enjoy!
- Serving Size: 4