Perusing Emeril’s new Sizzling Skillets and Other One-Pot Wonders this weekend was delightful, like having coffee with an old friend. Part of the fun of the One-Pot Blogger Party hosted by The Secret Ingredient is sharing a few recipes so we all get a taste of what’s inside this versatile cookbook. Here in Colorado, crisp fall weather has arrived along with the desire for warm, hearty dinners. I decided Cajun Shrimp Stew would be the perfect way to get the party started.
Rich Shrimp Stock provides a fortified base for this stew, layering flavors of savory vegetables and seafood. Unlike some comfort food, this dish is warming, but not heavy. In the second photo, you will notice I added yellow carrots and celery for part of the potatoes—it is easy to customize for spice, vegetable preference, and food sensitivities like shellfish allergies or gluten-free diets (shown below). You can be sure, when you pull out the Dutch oven, there will be enough to share, so invite someone to join you for dinner.
Cajun Shrimp Stew
This comforting, simple stew is a Cajun dish that many home cooks in Louisiana enjoy, especially during the Lenten season. It is easy to make and feeds a bunch. The trick is getting the roux to the right color . . . about a notch darker than peanut butter should do the trick. A homemade shrimp stock makes all the difference in the world. Make sure to add the shrimp just before serving so that they stay nice and tender. Some families boil eggs in their shrimp stew (as it simmers) to make the dish even heartier.
Serves 6 to 8
1 cup vegetable oil
1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
2 ½ cups finely chopped onion
¼ cup minced garlic (about 12 cloves)
10 cups Rich Shrimp Stock (pg 173)
2 bay leaves
1 ¼ teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
¾ teaspoon cayenne
2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme leaves
1 ½ tablespoons kosher salt
3 large baking potatoes (2 ½ to 3 pounds), peeled and cut into 2-inch pieces
2 pounds small or medium shrimp, peeled and deveined
¼ cup chopped green onion, green part only
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley leaves
Steamed long-grain white rice, for serving
1. 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.
2. 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.)
3. 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.
Sometimes certain recipes are avoided due to food sensitivities like gluten intolerance, and one reader commented she has a shellfish allergy. So everyone can enjoy this savory stew, here are a few adjustments to accommodate those needs:
2. Any firm fish, cut into manageable pieces, can substitute for the shrimp; simply cook it in the same manner (briefly). Use fish carcass or heads rather than shrimp to make the stock as well.
Cajun Shrimp Stew and the entire collection of sumptuous recipes will be available September 27, but stay tuned, I will give one away later this week. You can also pre-order Emeril’s Sizzling Skillets and Other One-Pot Wonders, just click on the title link.