February 27, 2017

Voodoo Shrimp

It's been a weekend full of parties. Some, like those hosted by my roommate (*cough cough* clean the dishes) lasted deep into the night (complete with freshly blended smoothies at 1am) with the sole purpose of making me grumpy. Others were probably much more fun, since it's the weekend of Carnivale, or Mardi Gras, or Fat Tuesday (it's a pretty big global holiday). Last year, it was Carnivale since I was in Italy and France, both of which have huge parades with massive floats and colorful costumes. This year, I'm back in the U.S. and all I can think about is Cajun and Creole food. This recipe for voodoo shrimp is packed with the flavors of New Orleans; it's spicy and creamy and savory and boozy and decadent. I'm not entirely sure why it's called voodoo shrimp, though, since it could be referencing the general concept of voodoo unique to that region, a specific beer only available in New Orleans, or, if you crank up the heat, the level of spiciness in the sauce.

At first glance, this recipe looks pretty hard. There's an endless list of ingredients and a bunch of components to make, but if you break it down and spread it out over a few hours it's not nearly as intimidating. The dish essentially consists of shrimp and sausage in a tomato cream sauce infused with andouille sausage and beer. I usually start with the shrimp. I buy unpeeled shrimp so I can use the peels to make a stock to base the sauce on. It only takes a few minutes to peel and devein them, and by the end of it you'll be a pro. The newly peeled shrimp are tossed in a wet spice mixture and left to marinate for a few hours while you work on the rest of the dish.

The sauce is the next step. I brown some andouille sausage in a big pot until it's nice and crisp and there's plenty of flavorful fat to cook the rest of the ingredients in. I also throw in some garlic and onions for extra flavor because every good sauce needs those aromatics. Those come back out of the pot so you can make a shrimp stock to stir in later. If you keep the sausage and onions in, they'll add extra flavor, but you'll have to pick them out when you strain the sauce (if that doesn't make sense now it will later I promise). The shrimp shells and additional spices are added to the pot with the andouille fat and cooked for a couple minutes. Instead of adding water to make the stock, I use guinness and chicken broth with a splash of worcestershire and lemon juice. You can use any beer you like, but I prefer guinness for the dark color and complex flavors. That all gets simmered for about half an hour and the shells are strained out (see, I told you; if you had sausage and onions in there too that would make it infinitely more difficult).

The actual sauce starts with a roux, a thickening agent made from fat and flour. Just melt some butter, add some flour, and cook it until thick and shiny. The stock is stirred in along with some tomatoes and the sausage and onions. I like to let it simmer for a bit, and when I'm ready to eat I stir in the cream and shrimp and let it go just until the shrimp are cooked (when they're opaque). Once you stir in the cream, you really don't want to cook it for too long. I'll pretty much shovel it right onto some rice or grits and that's all the party I need.

1 1/2 lbs Unpeeled Shrimp
1/2 lb Andouille, Diced
1 T Paprika
2 tsp Chili Powder
2 tsp Cayenne
1 1/2 tsp Salt
1 T Garlic Powder
1 T Onion Powder
1/2 tsp Oregano
1/2 tsp Thyme
1/2 tsp Pepper
2 T Brown Sugar
3 T Oil
1 Small Onion, Diced
3 Cloves Garlic, Minced
2 Cups Guinness
1/4 Cup Worcestershire
1 T Lemon Juice
1 Cup Chicken Broth
1 T Butter
2 T Flour
1 14.5oz Can Petite Diced Tomatoes, Drained
1/2 Cup Cream

Peel and de-vein the shrimp; save the shells.

Whisk the paprika, chili powder, cayenne, salt, garlic powder, onion powder, oregano, thyme, and pepper together.

Whisk 3 T of the spice mixture with the oil. Add the shrimp and marinate for 2-3 hours.

Brown the andouille in a large pot with another splash of oil. Add the onions and cook for 3 minutes. Remove from the pot. Add the garlic, shrimp shells, and 2T spices to the pot with the sausage fat. Cook for 2 minutes, then stir in the guinness, worcestershire, lemon juice, and chicken broth. Cover and simmer for 30 minutes, then strain to remove the shells.

Heat the butter in a large pot, either new or cleaned from the sauce. Once melted, add the flour and cook over medium heat, whisking constantly, until thick and shiny, about 2 minutes. Whisk in the strained sauce, drained tomatoes, sausage, onions, and the brown sugar. Season with salt and pepper and simmer for 20 minutes.

Stir the cream and the shrimp into the sauce. Simmer uncovered for 6 minutes or until the shrimp are opaque. Serve over rice or grits.

Serves 6
Recipe Adapted from Home Sweet Jones

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