I find myself completely stoked about this year’s Superbowl. While the Saints aren’t in it, it’s going to be held in New Orleans, which is where I’m from (well, a suburb of New Orleans, but close enough). Every time New Orleans is on the nation’s radar (for a good thing, at least), I feel a small sense of pride. New Orleans has been through a lot, and it’s just wonderful to see New Orleans back to being a prime tourist city again. Seven years ago, I remember going home for the Mardi Gras holiday, and going to my first post-Katrina parade. New Orleans (months later, mind you) still had a mildew-y smell. You could still see those “X”s spray painted on searched homes, as well as the water line stains on homes from the flooding.
While it was a sad sight to see, I think Mardi Gras that year allowed everyone to temporarily take their minds off of the damage and just simply enjoy New Orleans the way we all knew how. Stand on the neutral ground (or sidewalk), wave your hands in the air, take in the high school marching band music and catch/wear beads until your neck ached. Mardi Gras (the family version, at least) is the best!
Now, New Orleans is doing a LOT better than it was in February 2006, obviously. It’s mostly back to normal, but if you drive to certain parts of the city, there’s still some rebuilding happening. I’m so happy to see New Orleans hosting it’s first Superbowl since Katrina. With Mardi Gras being the week after, this whole shin-dig is being called Super Gras. I mean, these tourists have it made…they can have a hurricane in one hand and king cake in the other with their jerseys and face paint on, and no one will give them a second glance. New Orleans is really the best. (hint hint: food blog conferences take notes please?)
Since my husband and I have been counting calories, I haven’t been cooking much Louisiana cuisine. I still enjoy gumbo and jambalaya from time to time, but to have a full pot of that in our house? I just can’t do it lol! However, not ALL Louisiana cuisine is heavy in the calories. Let me introduce you to a wonderful dish called shrimp creole. It’s a wonderful tomato-based dish that is commonly served over plain rice. Now, I know…tomatoes can be boring, but there are layers of flavor in this dish. You start with making your own shrimp stock (using the heads and shells), and I swear, it’s worth it. Just make it. When it comes to cooking the dish, it starts with the “holy trinity” (as every good Louisiana dish should…except for bananas foster…who wants that in their bananas foster? ha!) and then tomatoes/fresh shrimp stock/white wine. Are you hungry yet? I’m tempted to take the leftovers out of the freezer as I’m writing this post!
Now, fair warning…this is a SPICY dish. If you need to tone it down, feel free. You can play around with the spices if you want it a little milder. I swear, it will still taste great!
adapted from NOLA Cuisine
- 2 lbs. peeled and deveined Shrimp (save the shells and heads to make the stock)
- 2 tbsp. butter
- 1 tbsp.vegetable oil
- 1 large onion, finely chopped
- 2 stalks celery, finely chopped
- 1 small green pepper, finely chopped
- 2 tbsp. cajun seasoning (I use Tony Chachere’s)
- 2 tbsp. tomato paste
- 20 oz. of canned fire roasted diced tomatoes
- 1/2 cup dry white wine
- 2 cups shrimp stock (recipe)
- 2 tbsp. minced garlic
- 2 bay leaves
- cayenne pepper, to taste
- kosher salt, to taste
- 1 tsp. black pepper
- 1 tsp. white pepper
- 1 bunch fresh thyme
- 2 tbsp. tabasco sauce
- 1 tbsp. worcestershire sauce
- 1/2 cup green onions, green tops thinly sliced
- 1/8 cup chopped fresh leaf parsley
- Melt the butter, along with the vegetable oil, in a dutch oven over medium high heat. When the butter begins to foam, add 1/2 cup of the onions. Cook the onions, stirring often, until the onions are a golden brown color. Add the remaining onions, as well as the celery, bell pepper, 1 tbsp. of the cajun seasoning and a pinch of salt, and reduce the heat to medium. Cook the vegetables until they are soft.
- Add the tomato paste to the vegetables, stirring constantly, until the paste begins to brown. Then, add the diced tomatoes and another pinch of salt. Stir everything together, and cook the mixture until the tomatoes are starting to break down a good bit. Add the wine and turn the heat until high, until most of the alcohol burns off (a couple of minutes). Add the shrimp stock, remaining tbsp. of cajun seasoning, garlic, bay leaves, black pepper, white pepper, a little bit of cayenne (to taste), as well as the thyme. Bring the mixture to a boil, and then reduce to a simmer. Continue simmering the mixture on low for another 45 minutes.
- Add the hot sauce (you may want to add less if you’re sensitive to spice) and worcestershire sauce. Season the sauce to taste with salt. At this time, season the shrimp with 1 tbsp. kosher salt and a pinch of cayenne. Bring the sauce to a boil again, and then reduce the heat to low, adding the shrimp in. Let the shrimp cook in the sauce until cooked through, which will only take a few minutes at the most. Add the green onions and parsley just before serving. Serve over plain rice and enjoy!