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Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Shrimp Étouffée Recipe

Shrimp Étouffée is in my top ten favorite southern meals! I was born in Louisiana and my mother told me that when she was pregnant with me, all she ate was Cajun food. Roast beef poboys, beignets, and hearty stews. I'm not sure if there's been any research on whether what your momma ate when you were in the womb has any effect on your taste buds, but based on my affinity for Cajun cooking, I'd have to say there must be a correlation. 

I grew up on the coast of Florida, so seafood has a special place in my heart. What's strange is that my mother never really cooked it much growing up, but when we went out to eat I ordered it at almost every meal. 

When I moved to Atlanta, I had a great kitchen. It was huge for a one bedroom apartment in the city. Having that much space to myself to experiment really had a giant influence on the development of my cooking skills. I worked in a bakery in college and knew how to whip up any sweet you asked me to, but cooking was an underdeveloped skill that I was dying to become proficient at.

 One of my best friends who shares my love of cooking decided to take me to the Dekalb Farmer's Market one Sunday afternoon. If you live anywhere near Atlanta and have never been to this spot, I highly recommend you go. I would have included photos of the interior with this post but it's against the rules and there are security guards who watch you.

From cooking-enthusiasts to chefs alike, this place is an ingredient food haven, filled with some of the most rare and bizarre items that you won't find at a Publix near you. The produce section alone is a thing of wonder and delight, where every turn of an aisle has you scratching your head wondering how you'd cook this spiky purple thing...or that long yellow stick...or, what the hell is this?

They also carry rare meats and cheeses. You can find quail eggs, liver, cows tongue, catch my drift? Now I realize this type of variety doesn't spark everyone's interest as much as it does mine, but regardless - this type of food-creating possibility revolutionized my cooking skills. Almost every paycheck I got went to bizarre ingredients that I would spend the weekend experimenting with. Now I still go back to that market whenever I want to make a great meal on a dime, because along with an amazing selection of food items come a very low price.

The shrimp étouffée recipe below is not outlandish. It is as authentic and delicious as they come. No need to be a fancy chef. No need to go to an exotic market. You can find everything at a grocery near you. I developed this recipe three years ago during my at-home food training and experimental phase. Most similar recipes do not call for sausage, but I've found it adds an extra kick and makes it more hearty. Let me know what you think in the comments below!


Start by peeling and deveining your shrimp. Rinse the shrimp thoroughly.

Squeeze the juice of half a lemon over your shrimp and dust the shrimp with cracked pepper. Toss and set aside.

Follow by chopping your vegetables. If you've never worked with okra before, this is what the thickness should look like.

For the remaining vegetables, I used my food processor to give them a fine chop and save time.

Aren't those peppers lovely?

Now it's time for the sauce. Start by browning your butter over medium heat until it becomes a light brown. Then add your flour and whisk them together until the mixture becomes the color of a cappuccino and creates a thick paste.

Once browned, add your chopped veggies and cook them down until translucent.

After cooking the vegetables for 10-15 minutes, add your stock, tomatoes, herbs, lemon and garlic. Cook for 10 minutes and then add your shrimp and cooked sausage for about 5 minutes.

Put about 1/2 cup rice into individual bowls. I formed my rice using a ramekin. 

Fill the bowl with the étouffée and top with parsley, paprika and chives. I served ours with buttered french bread and Chardonnay.

Ohhhh yeaaaaa....


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