Shrimp Beignets

Here in Richmond, we’re lucky to have been spared the worst of Hurricane Florence. Earlier in the week, Florence’s path was supposed to curve up through central Virginia, so Richmonders did the mad dash to clear water and bread off of grocery store shelves, buy every generator available, and stock up on candles. I was getting gas on Tuesday and pseudo-patiently waited in line for about 15 minutes, since everyone else was getting gas too, only to pull forward when it was finally my turn and immediately get cut off by an elderly woman who laughed at me as she flipped me the bird. So that was ridiculous. But luckily for us and not so luckily for the Carolinas, Florence stayed south, so we’re just getting some drawn out gray days with a little more breeze than normal and on & off rain through the weekend.

Since it’s not really nice enough outside to do much of anything, but it’s certainly safe to travel in this area, we’re having a New Orleans style feast at Ally’s aunt and uncle’s house. Aunt Lori is making gumbo and cornbread, so we decided to make an appetizer that matched her theme. I think we all (sub-consciously or not), associate New Orleans with hurricanes since Katrina, so there’s that too I guess. Ally loves Emeril, so of course we turned to him for our appetizer inspiration. Crawfish beignets are a classic New Orleans festival treat, so we went with that – adapting our recipe from Emeril’s recipe for crawfish beignets, substituting shrimp for the crawfish, plus a few other little tweaks. Ours are a little spicier than Emeril’s too! If you were in New Orleans, you’d probably have these with remoulade on the side, but we decided to whip up a Lemon Aioli. Our Super Garlic Aioli would probably be delicious too!

As we were making and eating these, the question came up… Why are these beignets? A couple people remarked that they reminded them of the conch fritters you get in the Caribbean. So why aren’t these ‘fritters’? I googled it and literally the first line of the Wikipedia page on beignets says, “Beignet, synonymous with the English ‘fritter’…” So there we have it! These are beignets because they’re from French-Creole New Orleans!

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Stay safe Carolina friends – we love you 🖤🖤🖤

Shrimp Beignets

Ingredients:
  • 2 tsp neutral oil
  • 1 small red bell pepper, finely chopped
  • 6 cloves garlic, minced
  • 10 oz fresh shrimp, coarsely chopped
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 8 turns fresh ground black pepper
  • ~3/4 cup green onions, finely chopped (white & light green parts)
  • 3 eggs
  • 2 1/4 cups flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 3/4 cup milk
  • 1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tbsp paprika
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • 2 tsp cayenne
  • 1/2 tsp dried oregano
  • 1/2 tsp dried thyme
  • Vegetable or peanut oil, for frying
Instructions:
  1. Heat the 2 tsp of oil over medium heat in a medium sized pan. Once hot, add the garlic and bell pepper. Cook for 3-4 minutes until softened a bit.
  2. Now add the chopped shrimp and season the pan with the salt and pepper. Cook for another 2-4 minutes with the lid on until shrimp have lost their translucency. Remove from heat.
  3. In a large bowl, whisk the eggs together. Stir all of the remaining ingredients, except for the flour (and the ‘oil for frying,’ obviously), and the shrimp mixture into that bowl. Add the flour last, stirring as you go. Add the last 1/4 cup slowly, stopping if your mixture gets too thick.
  4. If you have deep fryer, whip that out, otherwise fill a tall-sided pot no more that 1/3 full with oil. Heat to 365 degrees.
  5. Once oil is hot, drop dough by spoonfuls into the oil. Do this in batches – don’t over-crowd the pot! Fry for ~3 minutes until golden and crispy. Remove with a slotted spoon to a wire rack or a paper towel lined dish. (Try to maintain the temperature of the oil – if it’s too hot the outside will crisp (burn) very quickly and the inside will remain raw.)
  6. When cool enough to handle, enjoy!
Makes ~ 2-3 dozen depending on size

Shrimp Etouffee

Have to start somewhere right? For our very first blog post, I give you a pretty easy recipe for shrimp Ă©touffĂ©e. The other day we saw some nice-looking fresh shrimp on sale and snatched it up. So we were trying to plan a dinner around said shrimp. I caught a glimpse of Emeril on TV, on a commercial or something while flipping channels, and thought… “What would Emeril do if he had some shrimp to use for dinner…?”

Shrimp Ă©touffĂ©e. That’s definitely what Emeril would do in my situation.

ÉtouffĂ©e is a word coming from the French basically meaning “smothered.” In this dish, your roux does smother the rice underneath, so the translation is apt. A lot of times you see Ă©touffĂ©e made with crawfish, but shrimp or other shellfish works well too. I started reading a little more about it and learned that both Cajun and Creole cuisines have traditional Ă©touffĂ©es, with a few differences. In Creole Ă©touffĂ©es, tomatoes are often added and the roux is cooked for a shorter time period (“blond roux.”) In Cajun Ă©touffĂ©es, the roux is cooked for ~10-20 extra minutes, giving it a darker color and different flavor. Adding tomatoes is sacrilegious. The Ă©touffĂ©e I made is more of the Creole variety.

Without further ado…

Shrimp Étouffée 

[Recipe is an amalgamation of reading several of Emeril’s recipes and this recipe from the Closet Cooking blog]


Ingredients:

  • 5 tbsp butter, divided (4 tbsp & 1 tbsp)
  • 4 tbsp AP flour
  • 3/4lb fresh shrimp, shell on (don’t toss the shells!!)
  • 2 cups of vegetable stock
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 1 large red bell pepper, diced
  • 1 cup crushed tomatoes
  • 4 cloves of garlic, chopped
  • 1 1/2 tbsp Worcestershire
  • 2 tsp Frank’s Red Hot sauce
  • Creole seasoning (essentially Emeril’s Essence, scaled down)
    • 1 tbsp paprika (if you have access to smoked paprika, try 1 tsp smoked paprika & 2 tsp of regular paprika)
    • 2 tsp salt
    • 2 tsp garlic powder
    • 1 tsp black pepper
    • 1 tsp onion powder
    • 1 tsp cayenne
    • 1 tsp dried oregano
    • 1 tsp dried thyme
  • Sliced green onion to garnish
  • 1/2 cup rice, dry

Instructions: 

  1. Place vegetable stock in saucepan and bring to a low simmer. Add the shrimp shells and tails to the stock and continue to simmer while working on other ingredients.
  2. Place larger saute pan or cast-iron skillet on the burner over medium heat. Add the 4 tbsp of butter to the pan and melt.
  3. Once butter is melted, begin whisking in flour slowly. I use a regular spoon and tap little bits into the butter with my left hand while continuously whisking with my right hand. If you just dump flour in all it once, it will burn and get lumpy and frankly taste terrible. So plan on being there a little while. This step will take at least 10 minutes. You want the {butter + flour = roux} to start to darken in color to a light brown.
  4. Once you have the roux, add the onions and garlic. Cook for ~5 minutes over the same medium heat. Then add the bell pepper and continue cooking for another ~5 minutes. (If your roux has gotten pretty thick and you’re concerned about the vegetables sticking and burning, add a spoonful or two of the stock.)
  5. Strain the shrimp shells from the stock. Use a very fine mesh strainer or even cheesecloth. Add the stock to your pan, along with the tomatoes, Worcestershire, hot sauce, and spices. Adjust the temperature so this is simmering. Simmer, stirring occasionally, for ~20 minutes. Meanwhile, cook your rice per package instructions. When the rice is done, add the remaining 1 tbsp of butter and keep covered.
  6. Taste the sauce and adjust salt & pepper as needed. Add the shrimp to the sauce and cook for < 5 minutes, until the shrimp have just turned pink.
  7. Serve etouffee over rice and garnish with the green onions.

Makes 2 large servings.