Friday, April 4, 2008

Recipe Review: Shrimp Creole

This is one of MSH's all-time favorite dishes. He calls it "That Good Shrimp Stuff" when he requests it for dinner, and he requests it often. I love the spiciness and buttery shrimp mixed with the acidic tomato sauce. It's very hard to show any restraint around something like this. I got the recipe from The Betty Crocker Cookbook: Bridal Edition.There are a million and one (or more) versions of Shrimp Creole out there, but this one works really well. I don't know which version of the cookbook it is; they release a new one every few years, but we got married in 2002, so it was the one that was on the shelves then. Thanks to MSH's Aunt Becky for the book!

Caution: Unsolicited Product Endorsement Follows. If you know anyone who is getting married or moving out on their own for the first time or might ever cook anything, this cookbook is the greatest gift you can give. The recipes are good, but the real highlight of the book is all the information it contains. There are directions on how to cook almost anything in many different ways. There are substitution recommendations and instructions on how to chop, dice, mince, how to de-bone a chicken, how to peel and de-vein shrimp. There are illustrations showing where each cut of beef and pork come from. I could go on and on and on about how much there is in this book, but you just have to check it out.

Now for the recipe--Easy & quick, but every one will think you're a gourmet chef.

2 lbs. raw shrimp, in shells *I use the ones that are 41-50 ct. per pound and cut each in half*
1/4 c. butter
3 medium onions, chopped (1 1/2 cups)
2 medium green bell peppers, finely chopped (2 cups)
2 medium stalks celery, finely chopped (1 cup) *I never have celery on hand, so I just leave it out.*
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 cup water
2 tsp chopped fresh parsley *I never have this on hand either, so I use dried or leave it out*
1 1/2 tsp salt *Since I never have celery, I use celery salt.*
1/4 tsp ground red pepper, cayenne
2 bay leaves
1-15 oz can tomato sauce
6 cups hot rice
**I also add white pepper and black pepper (about 1/4 tsp of each), and MSH dashes his liberally with hot sauce.**

1. Peel and de-vein shrimp (and cut them into smaller pieces if you want). Cover & refrigerate.
2. Melt butter in saucepan over medium heat. Cook onions, bell pepper, celery, and garlic for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until onions are tender. (I forgot to photograph this step).
3. Stir in remaining ingredients, except shrimp and rice. Heat to boiling; reduce heat to low. Simmer, uncovered 10 minutes.
4. Stir in shrimp. Heat to boiling; reduce heat to medium. Cover and cook 4 to 6 minutes, stirring occasionally, until shrimp are pink and firm. Remove bay leaves. Serve shrimp mixture over rice.

Not only is the flavor of this dish absolutely out-of-this-world delicious, it's really pretty healthy. To make it even healthier, you can use brown rice, but MSH hates the stuff! Since there are just 2 of us, and MSH has no self-control when it comes to this dish, I always make half a recipe. It's quite easy, I just halve the quantity of everything (except the spices) and cook it up!

Here's what it looks like when I make it.

Please disregard the drops of sauce everywhere. I'm a pretty messy cook.

Also, please don't be like me when it comes to your garlic. We love garlic in our house, but somehow we wound up buying some and losing it in the refrigerator, then buying more and forgetting that we lost some until one day, I was digging in the vegetable drawer and found this:

I almost fainted. Then I thought to myself, "Self, could you plant this and grow your own garlic? You need to Google that and see." Then I forgot about it, so this is currently living on my kitchen counter.

Mamas, don't let your babies grow up to be garlic-neglecting cooks like me.

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