It all started with some shrimp shells, which have been accumulating in a large zip lock bag in the freezer. Finally, several months later, I have enough to make some stock.
Do you discard your shrimp shells? Do you buy your shrimp already peeled?
If you answered “yes” to either of these questions, you’re missing out on something really special. Shrimp stock is so flavorful and requires minimal effort to make. Yes, it’s a bit of work to shell the shrimp in the first place, but preparing the stock, best described as concentrated shrimpy goodness [in the form of a rich-tasting broth], is easy.
I made the stock in December and stored it in the freezer while I was coming up with a game plan. Now that I had my lovely shrimp stock, what to do with it?? Thumbed through several books and countless online recipes. That went on for several weeks…maybe a seafood [shrimp] stew/soup, perhaps risotto or rice/pilaf, paella, gumbo, polenta, grits, etc.
You would think that someone who constantly thinks about food would have it all covered, but sometimes it’s a struggle to come up with [new] ideas, even though I have several journals filled with recipes and notes (go figure).
Finally settled on a spicy Creole shrimp…something warming and comforting for a frigid winter’s night. These past few weeks in D.C. have been quite cold and reminded me of my years in the windy city (Chicago).
This stew has a good amount of spice — from the Creole seasoning and fresh chiles [poblano, jalapeno, and Anaheim] — though is not overwhelmingly spicy. The spiciness hits you on the back of your palate, but will not have you tearing up from the heat.
In a pinch, you could substitute store-bought stock, but in my humble opinion, homemade shrimp stock really elevates and makes the dish what it is. So, don’t skimp. Make the shrimp stock 🙂
Serve the stew over rice, creamy or grilled polenta, or grits.
Time to replenish my shrimp shells and make more stock…
Use already prepared Creole spice mix or make your own — salt, black pepper, ground garlic, ground onion, ground ginger, paprika, cayenne, dried basil, thyme, and oregano.
Once you have shrimp stock on hand, you can store in the freezer for several months; it will be ready and waiting when your next culinary inspiration strikes.
All you need to do is…save up all your shrimp shells whenever you buy shrimp. Keep them stored in a zip lock bag or airtight container in the freezer. When you’ve accumulated enough shells, it’s time to make shrimp stock.
What you’re left with is an intensely flavorful stock. Light years better than anything you’d ever get from a box or can (which to me tastes like nothing more than salty water).z
Spicy Creole Shrimp
2 tablespoons butter
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 large onion, finely chopped
1 celery stalk, finely chopped
2 small poblano peppers, stemmed, seeded, finely chopped
1 banana pepper, Anaheim, or Cubanelle, stemmed, seeded, finely chopped
1 jalapeno, stemmed, minced (seeded for less heat)
2 tablespoons Creole seasoning, divided (see recipe below)
4 cloves of garlic, minced
2 tablespoons tomato paste
2 cups, fresh (when in season) or canned tomatoes, diced
1/2 cup dry white wine
2 cups shrimp stock; more as needed (see recipe below)
1 teaspoon fresh thyme, chopped
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1 to 1 1/2 pounds shrimp, shelled and cleaned
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
thinly sliced green onions for garnish
fresh parsley, chopped for garnish
Heat the butter and olive oil in a large cast-iron skillet over medium heat. Add the onion, celery, chiles, 1 tablespoon of Creole seasoning, and cook until the onions soften, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and saute another minute. Add the tomato paste and cook another 3 minutes.
Add the tomatoes and cook for a few minutes. Add the wine, 2 cups of shrimp stock, the remaining tablespoon of Creole seasoning, and fresh thyme, and simmer for 35-40 minutes. Add a bit more stock as needed.
Add the Worcestershire and cook for a minute. Taste and season with salt and pepper as needed. Add the shrimp and cook a few minutes until the shrimp turn pink and are cooked through.
Serve over rice, polenta, or grits. Garnish with thinly sliced green onions and parsley.
2 1/2 tablespoons sea salt
2 1/2 tablespoons black pepper
2 1/2 tablespoons paprika
2 tablespoons ground ginger
2 tablespoons onion powder
2 tablespoons garlic powder
1 tablespoon cayenne pepper
1 tablespoon dried thyme
1 tablespoon dried basil
1/2 tablespoon dried oregano
Combine all ingredients. Mix well. Store in an airtight container.
Shells from 2 1/2 pounds of shrimp
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 cup coarsely chopped onion
1/2 cup coarsely chopped celery (including leaves)
1/2 cup coarsely chopped carrot
few sprigs fresh thyme
2 cloves of garlic
1/2 small bunch of parsley
6 to 8 cups cold water, enough to cover
2 bay leaves
1 teaspoon black peppercorns
Rinse the shrimp shells under cold water. Heat the oil in a large soup pot or Dutch oven. Add the shrimp shells, onion, celery, carrot, thyme, garlic, and parsley. Saute about 10 minutes, until the shrimp shells turn pink.
Add the water, bay leaves, and pepper. Bring to a boil, turn down the heat, and simmer about 45 minutes to an hour, skimming any impurities that rise to the surface. Strain. Cool completely. Refrigerate up to a week. Freeze up to 3 months.