Shrimp Étouffée

It seems October has vanished right before my eyes. I had a handful of posts for this month…and I notice that none of them are here! So…I’m going to try to catch up…here goes…

In French, the word “étouffée” means “smothered” or “suffocated.”  It is said to be similar to gumbo, but much thicker. Quite frankly, I don’t see much resemblance to gumbo once you get past making the roux. Gumbo can have all kinds of crazy things in it and is much more like a stew. Étouffée is more like gravy in my mind. And while I’ve heard rumors of people putting tomatoes or tomato paste into étouffée, I can’t support such a controversial practice…especially since we are less than a day’s drive from Louisiana.

I could probably tell you all kinds of other interesting things about étouffée, but I’m trying to catch up here, so I’ll be brief. My husband says, “This is just about the best thing you can do to a shrimp.”

There’s not really much else to say.

Étouffée

3/4 cup oil

3/4 cup flour

1 cup onion, chopped

1 TB parsley, chopped

1 TB green onions, chopped

2 tsp celery, chopped

2 tsp bell pepper, chopped

1-2 pounds cleaned crawfish or shrimp

2 tsp paprika

water

salt and pepper

Tabasco to taste (optional)

(You can probably tell from my piles of chopped veggies that I have a hard time using those tiny little amounts like 2 tsp…but it’s close.)

Use the flour and oil to make a small, dark roux over medium-high heat (about 10-15 minutes.)  If you haven’t ever made a roux before, plan to practice. And plan to go through a couple of batches of oil and flour. As my mother-in-law says, “If it smells burnt, it is.”)

Roux with veggies cooking

Once your roux is nice and dark, add all chopped vegetables and cook until tender (5-7 minutes.) Then add crawfish or shrimp and paprika. Cook until crawfish or shrimp are pink – just a few minutes – it should be very thick.

See how gummy and thick it is when you are cooking the shrimp?

Add water, 1 TB at a time, until your étouffée is the consistency you desire. Salt and pepper to taste and serve over rice. Use Tabasco (or other heat) if desired.

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Appearing Regularly: Mediterranean Shrimp Sauté

I have them.  You have them, too. Those dishes that show up several times a month because they are simple and use things which you tend to always have on hand…chances are you don’t even use a recipe for them, right?

We all know the standard regulars: tacos, spaghetti, burgers. But what about the ones that are a little more interesting? An uncommon casserole or an entrée salad? For my friend Erica, years ago, it was Clam Spaghetti. She could manifest a big cheesy platter of that yumminess on any given day…and we were always happy to see it. (More recently she had a Carbonara phase…and in my enthusiasm to join the fun I ruined mine with garlic that had gone bad. Yuck!)

Summer is upon us and this recipe is perfect for the season. Light and easy to throw together…only a little grill or stove top heat required…it can be an entree or a side…and my four-year-old loves it. Maybe it will find its way into your regular rotation. I’d love to hear what else is there…what do you find yourself making again and again?

Mediterranean Shrimp Sauté (or Grill)

adapted from relish!relish!

4 TB balsamic vinaigrette dressing (we use homemade or Paul Newman’s)

1 1/2 lbs large shrimp, peeled and deveined

1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved

1/4 cup fresh basil, chopped + some for garnish

1 handful black olives, halved (or as many as you like!)

1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese (or more if you like)

1 whole lemon, in wedges

8-10 oz. whole wheat orzo pasta

Cook orzo according to package instructions so that it is still firm to the bite. Drain. Set aside.

Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Coat the pan with cooking spray (or butter.) Add half of the vinaigrette and all of the shrimp and cook for 2-3 minutes until done.*

Remove shrimp from pan and tent with foil to keep warm. Turn heat to medium and add remaining dressing, cherry tomatoes, basil and olives to the pan and warm through for a minute or so. Turn off heat. Add shrimp back to pan, add feta and basil for garnish.  Toss shrimp mixture with pasta…or serve pasta in bowls and top with shrimp.** Serve with lemon wedges for squeezing.

*Shrimp can also be brushed with dressing and grilled. This dish is a great way to use left over cooked shrimp, too.

**Serving suggestions: This dish is great warm or at room temperature. The shrimp mixture can be a topping (or a sauce if you add some broth and butter) to your favorite pasta or mixed in and tossed. And, if you want more of a salad/side dish, finely chop the olives, tomatoes and shrimp for a “fried rice” kind of dish.

Greens!

It’s hard to escape a farmers’ market without a big bunch of leafy greens.

Turnip Greens (apologies for photos - it's dark so early now - I haven't adjusted yet!)

These greens weren’t actually mine.  My mother bought them.  She got swept up in the chef demonstration recipe which included turnips and bison and some other things I can’t remember.  Anyway, she didn’t expect to use all of them, and so here they are in my kitchen.

It was a night I didn’t really feel like cooking…in fact, my husband almost ran out to grab something…but with the greens on my counter and a couple of staples on-hand (bacon and rice and broth,) I mustered just enough energy to throw together a quick dinner.  No masterpiece here, but we enjoyed a nice Southern staple on the patio and I got to put some green things on my son’s plate.  No, of course he didn’t eat them, but that never stops me from putting them in front of him!

Turnip greens with mushrooms and bacon

The key with greens is that you need a lot of them.  And you have to clean them and then clean them again.  Then they simmer in broth with onions and your choice of pork.  I usually serve them with some vinegar (but I forgot that the other night!)  Also, in spite of washing them twice, there was still some occasional grit…so I really mean it when I say you wash and wash and wash them.  The bacon goes first, then add the onions and mushrooms.  Once everything is nice and happy in the bacon grease you add the washed, chopped greens in batches as they wilt.  Add broth as needed so they can simmer for 40-45 minutes.  Finish with a splash of vinegar before serving.  Oh, and you’ll want to have some cornbread handy to sop up some of that “pot likker” as they call it.

Steam some rice and quick sauté some shrimp…and dinner is served.