During Lent, Catholics are required to go "meat-free" as a sacrifice. I'm learning that in East Tennessee it is a sacrifice since seafood is not as plentiful or affordable as it is in New Orleans. Fridays at lunch are a real sacrifice because I'm not big on square, frozen fish from fast-food restaurants and I am completely grossed out by the imitation seafood salad at sub shops. Tuna fish is about the only option on a quick lunch hour on a Friday. My husband has made friends with a man from New Orleans who owns a seafood shop in Knoxville. His prices are a little on the high side, but my hubby is always looking for a bargain and has struck up a friendship with this gentleman and is able to get a little bit of a discount at this establishment. This past Friday my husband brought home some Louisiana shrimp in hopes I would make Shrimp Creole. I was delighted to fulfill his hope. One note, I only use Zatarain's Crab Boil for the stock you'll need for this recipe. You can order online at a reasonable price ($1.99 per bag) and I have found it at Big Lots ($1.50 per bag) or... if you have a friend in New Orleans they can ship it to you.
Shrimp Creole - Peel 2 lbs. of shrimp. Put the peeled shrimp in a bowl, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate. Reserve the shells for stock. Fill a large pot with 2 quarts of water add 2-1/2 tablespoons Zatarain's powdered crab boil, cut 1 lemon in half, squeeze the juice in the water then toss in the lemon halves. Bring to a boil and add shrimp shells and boil for 30 minutes then remove from heat and set aside. In another large non-stick pot or cast-iron Dutch Oven, heat 1/4 cup vegetable oil over med-high heat. When oil is heated add 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour and stir constantly until you have a brown roux (caramel color), then add one onion chopped, salt and black pepper to the roux and keep stirring (I can't describe how good this smells!) until onions are wilted. Then add 1 small can of tomato paste and half of a green bell pepper chopped and lower heat to medium and cook for 15 minutes stirring frequently so it won't stick to the pot. Add one cup of shrimp stock blending well, mixture will be thick, add another 1/2 cup of stock and one cup of tap water and blend. Cover pot lower heat to simmer and cook for 40 minutes. After 40 minutes, add shrimp and cook another 20 minutes until the shrimp are pink and translucent. Serve over white fluffy rice.
Hint for leftover stock, it can be poured into ice cube trays and frozen. Then put the frozen stock in a re-sealable bag for future dishes or you can dump it.