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Author Notes: Port and gourmet bacon create the perfect personality for this Creole
I started making shrimp Creole using the Joy of Cooking recipe from the cookbook I had received as a wedding gift in 1974. I love good shrimp Creole, and have ordered it at seaside restaurants at every opportunity. When we eat out and I order Creole I drive my husband mad by trying to guess the ingredients and cooking methods.
As the years have passed, my recipe has evolved. Friends and family request Creole when we get together, and with a large family it is one of my favorites to make since it serves a crowd, and most of the work is “front end”, I add the seafood and put on some rice during cocktails, and I still have time to spend with my family and friends.
Fresh herbs, good quality bacon and Port are important, as is the necessity to not be in a hurry in making the sauce.
We have a fantastic seafood shop in Tallahassee, and I always have them peel and devein the shrimp for me because they do it much more quickly than I can.
I have made this for a party at my daughter’s home in Montana where all I could get was a bag of frozen shrimp, and frozen whitefish. And although it was still a meal I was proud to present, it was a little watery. So for those that live in areas where fresh seafood is rare, you can use frozen seafood, but be sure to thaw and drain your fish and shrimp well before putting them in the sauce.
If you want to make a richer/thicker sauce try my daughter’s method: she prepares the sauce the day before, refrigerates it overnight, and the next day lets the sauce cook for a couple of hours before the seafood is added
This recipe is a great place to start your own family Creole recipe. Run with it and be creative.
- 1/2 pound brown sugar hickory smoked or good quality country bacon
- 2 red or yellow peppers – (no green) – chopped
- 2 large sweet onions – chopped
- 3 bunches green onions – chopped
- 4 stalks celery – chopped, including leaves
- 4 fresh cloves garlic – minced
- 2 boxes or cans (28 ounce cans, 26 ounce boxes) of crushed Roma tomatoes. Use the best quality!
- 15 ounces -- 1 can of quality tomato sauce
- 1 teaspoon paprika
- thyme – several sprigs of fresh
- fresh basil - 3-4 leaves chopped
- oregano – several sprigs fresh
- 2 bay leaves
- 1/2 teaspoon ground pepper
- 2 teaspoons sea salt
- 4 tablespoons good quality Creole Seasoning – if you don’t remember how long that seasoning has been in your cabinet, throw it out and buy some more!
- •several shakes of hot sauce
- 2 tablespoons Worstershire Sauce
- Start by cooking ½ pound of brown sugar hickory smoked or good quality country bacon in a very large heavy pot – preferably an iron stove top and oven safe pot. Crumble the bacon and set aside and reserve 2-3 tablespoons of the bacon grease in the pot and sauté the veggies: peppers, onoins, green onions, celery, and garlic in the bacon grease.
- Add the boxes/cans of tomatoes, tomato sauce, paprika, thyme,basil, oregano, bay leaves, pepper, creole seasoning, hot sauce, and Worstershire sauce into the pot with the sautéed veggies, turn the heat up to medium high until it is good and hot and then turn it down to low or medium low with the lid off, stirring periodically to keep the sauce from sticking on the bottom. Let it simmer as low as possible for one hour to 1 ½ hours; you can’t hurry it:
Adding all the good stuff: Seafood, Port, Olives and bacon
- 1/2 cup good quality Port
- 3 1/2 pounds shrimp: peeled and deveined, large or medium (not jumbo)
- 1 1/2 pounds grouper or any mild white fish– cut in 1 inch cubes
- 12 ounces jar of small pimento stuffed green olives – drained
- the crumbled bacon that you set aside earlier
- Now add all the good stuff: the Port, the shrimp, fish, olives, and bacon, turning up the heat and bringing it ALMOST to a boil stirring GENTLY after adding the seafood . When the shrimp JUST turns pink and begins to curl (3-10 minutes depending on your stove), stir well being careful to not break up the fish into flakes, and remove from the stove, cover with the lid, and put the pot in a barely warm oven (150 – 200 degrees) for 20-30 minutes before serving to let it rest and the flavors blend.
- Don’t take off the lid until you are ready to serve, then remove lid and stir gently, but well. Serve over Spanish or white rice, with a side of Focaccia bread, Cuban bread, crusty rolls or cornbread.
- This recipe was entered in the contest for Your Best Shellfish
- This recipe was entered in the contest for The Recipe You Want To Be Remembered For