I’ll just say it – any excuse to try shrimp in a new way is fine with me. Well, almost any way. Cajun cooking is something I’ve thoroughly enjoyed with what little I’ve experienced, and after my recent purchase of a cast-iron cooking magazine, I decided it was time to try making a cajun-style dish at home. Years ago, when hubby and I were just crazy young dating kids, he had the chance to go to Louisianna during Mardis Gras season and fell in love with their cooking. While I’m not about to dive in and suck the heads off some crawfish like he does, I’ll gladly cook this shrimp etouffee recipe for him any time. Cuz it is 100% awesomesauce. It’s probably the first time I’ve been tempted to lick my cast-iron pan clean, but I managed to refrain.
We cheated a little on this recipe. We didn’t make the homemade shrimp stock. We’re trying to get ahead food-blog-wise and build up a cache of recipe posts for weekends we need to take off and such. We needed to save a little time with this recipe, so I bought clam juice to replace the shrimp stock and we substituted a little chicken stock as well to add some richer flavor. It worked lip-smacking-ly well.
The first step – and probably the most important – is to make a roux. This isn’t just any roux either, it’s a long-cooked, constantly stirred one. Most rouxs are only cooked for a couple of minutes, but this one is slow-cooked for more like 15 to 20. This is absolutely necessary so don’t skimp on the time. It brings a deeper flavor to the etouffee and you will know this in every fiber of your flavor-loving tongue when you taste the end results.
The roux might start to smell like it’s burning, but if you’re constantly stirring and scraping on the bottom of the pan, not allowing the four to sit in one place for too long, it’s as it should be. It’s not burning, the smell is just intensifying because it’s being cooked so long.
Once the roux is deep enough in color, add in the veggies. Celery, onion and green bell pepper are a pretty common trio in Cajun cooking and they add another flavor-boosting level to the dish.
Once you’ve added the stock, it needs to thicken. Ours did most of its thickening action in the last few minutes of the 20 minutes called for this part. Now add in the shrimp and you’re almost done. If you don’t have a cover for your pan, just put a piece of aluminum foil over the top and carefully press it down along the sides. It doesn’t have to be a tight seal.
From here on out, you’re in the home stretch. This is a really easy, quick dish to make. Hello, awesome weeknight dinner!
The shrimp need less than ten minutes to poach in that rich, yummy sauce. When you pull off your lid, try to hold yourself back because the smells are heavenly.
This is the moment, when that first bite will explain it all very well, in detail, why you took almost twenty minutes to stir together a dark roux. Congratulations on your patience – now feast!
Prep Time: 20 minutes Cook Time: about 1 hour Level: Easy Serves: 4
- 1/4 cup vegetable oil
- 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
- 1/2 cup chopped celery
- 1/2 cup chopped onion
- 1/2 cup chopped green bell pepper
- 1 1/2 teaspoons Cajun seasoning or to taste
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 4 bay leaves
- 1 large sprig fresh thyme
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 2 1/2 cups hot shrimp stock (recipe follows)
- 2 pounds large shrimp, peeled and deveined (tails left on), shells reserved for stock
- 1/2 cup chopped, seeded tomato
- hot cooked rice, for serving
- Garnish: chopped green onion
In a 10-inch cast-iron skillet, heat oil over medium heat; gradually stir in flour. Stir constantly witha wooden spatula until mixture is a deep caramel color, 15 to 20 minutes. Add celery, onion, and bell pepper; cook until vegetable begin to soften, approximately 5 minutes. Add Cajun seasoning, salt, bay leaves, thyme, and garlic; cook for 1 minute.
Gradually add hot shrimp stock to skillet, stirring to combine. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat; simmer, stirring frequently, until mixture is smooth and thickened, approximately 20 minutes. Add shrimp and tomatoes; cover and cook until shrimp are pink, approximately 7 minutes. Discard bay leaves and thyme sprig before serving. Serve with rice and garnish with green onions, if desired.
- Reserved shrimp shells
- 3 cups water
- 1/2 lemon
- 4 sprigs fresh parsley
- 4 sprigs fresh thyme
- 1/2 small onion
In a large saucepan, combine shrimp shells, 3 cups water, lemon, parsley, thyme, and onion; bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low; simmer for thirty minutes. Strain stock through a colander set over a bowl. Discard solids. Add additional water, if needed, to equal 2 1/2 cups stock.
As noted above, we used the bottled clam juice instead of making a shrimp stock and it was divine in the end. We’ve made a shrimp stock before and weren’t particularly impressed with it for all the extra effort you have to go to. If you want to keep this to a quick, easy weeknight meal, just sub in the clam juice if you feel like paying an extra few bucks.