Today was one of my favorite days, only happening as seasons change. It was gray and drizzling, and the air was just starting to get crisp, teasing that fall was around the corner. The Gulf of Mexico was roaring, and a light clap of thunder played overhead. The yellow and purple beach flags were waving, warning tourist of rough surf and jellyfish.
I sat reflecting on my Louisiana days, and the enjoyment I had, trawling in the Gulf and on Lake Catherine. I trawled for pure enjoyment, and I got a thrill each time the net was pulled up to view the bounty at hand. Several times I was allowed by family shrimpers to go wing netting on the bigger boats, and I just about came unglued as the crew lifted the nets.
One of the dishes I have been given the recipe to share in Emeril’s Sizzling Skillets new cookbook, is for Cajun Shrimp Stew. Most in The One-Pot Wonder’s Blogging Party have created this dish, so I pondered over whether to make it at all.
But, suddenly today felt like “that” kind of day, a day for making Cajun Shrimp Stew.
Shrimp Stew is a staple dish in the area of Louisiana known as Acadia, located in the southern part of the state. Acadians love to have a good time, and those good times always include lots of food. Acadians have a legacy with roots that run deep, and will carry on for generations.
When purchasing shrimp, make sure it is fresh and buy shrimp with the heads still intact, so that they may be used to make a rich shrimp stock.
When making the roux, stay by the stove, constantly stirring until the flour and oil mixture gets to a color darker than peanut butter, but not burned. If it burns, discard the mixture and start again, as you will ruin the dish. I have a wonderful roux spoon that I purchased from Vicki’s Kitchenique, with an angled edge and holes in the body to create the perfect roux. I love it so much, that I bought the spoon for everyone in my family last Christmas!
Do not add the shrimp until the very end of the cooking time, so that they stay nice and tender. Emeril suggests taking to tradition, and boil eggs in your stew, serving chopped on topped the finished dish. I chose to skip that suggestion this time, although it does sound like a delicious and interesting option.
I enjoyed this recipe, and found the simmering stew to create soft aromas that filled the kitchen, a delectable dish that also filled my family’s bellies with joy.
Emeril Lagasse’s Cajun Shrimp Stew: Sizzling Skillets and Other One-Pot Wonders
- 1 cup vegetable oil
- 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 1/2 cups finely chopped onion
- 1/4 cup minced garlic (about 12 cloves)
- 10 cups Rich Shrimp Stock
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 1/4 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
- 3/4 teaspoon cayenne
- 2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme leaves
- 1 1/2 tablespoons kosher salt
- 3 large baking potatoes (2 1/2 to 3 pounds), peeled and cut into 2-inch pieces
- 2 pounds small or medium shrimp, peeled and deveined
- 1/4 cup chopped green onion, green part only
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley leaves
- Steamed long-grain white rice, for serving
- Heat the oil in a heavy-bottomed Dutch oven over medium-high heat and, when hot, add the flour. Whisk to combine and continue to cook, stirring constantly, until a medium roux is formed (it should look a bit darker than peanut butter), about 10 minutes. (If the roux begins to brown too quickly, reduce the heat to medium or medium-low and take your time—it is important that the roux not be burned at all or the stew will have a bitter taste.) As soon as the roux is the right color, add the chopped onion and cook until soft, stirring occasionally, 4 to 6 minutes.
- Add the garlic and cook for 2 minutes. Stir in the stock, little by little, and bring the sauce to a gentle boil. Add the bay leaves, black pepper, cayenne, thyme, and 4 teaspoons of the salt and reduce the heat so that the sauce just simmers. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the floury taste is gone, 30 to 45 minutes.
- Add the potatoes and continue to cook, uncovered and stirring occasionally, until the potatoes are very tender and the sauce is thick and flavorful, 30 to 40 minutes longer. (Add a bit of water or chicken broth to thin the gravy should the stew get too thick during the cook time. The sauce is meant to be thick and rich but not pasty.)
- Toss the shrimp with the remaining ½ teaspoon salt. Stir the shrimp, green onion, and parsley into the stew and continue to cook until the shrimp are just cooked through, 3 to 4 minutes. Taste and adjust the seasoning if necessary. Remove the bay leaves. Serve the stew in shallow bowls over hot white rice.
6 to 8 servings
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