Some of you will know that feeling when you get a new cookbook and you just can’t wait to sit down and steal away a few minutes to get to know its pages. My mom found herself in that boat recently as we sat on the fishing pier at one of our favorite and most peaceful places. Despite the wind coming off the ocean, we flipped through the book as the sun rested on our backs. We came across a recipe for shrimp creole, and I knew I had to make it. It is the best shrimp creole I’ve ever eaten and I’m sharing the recipe with you today. It’s too good to keep to myself!
It was one of those gorgeous summer days when the sun shone bright, casting cloud shadows over the ocean. It was the unofficial start of summer, Memorial Day weekend on St. Simons Island, and my mom and I had just finished browsing the Antique Show, an annual event held under ancient oak trees, where vendors of all kinds set up shop on the sidewalks. “The book lady” is always found in the same spot with her visor on, sitting in her camping chair among the shade trees. Two oblong tables full of used paperback and hardback books, from cookbooks and history books on Georgia’s beautiful coast to fiction written by local authors, sit on either side of her. You may know the book that caught Mom’s attention, or at least be familiar with the author: Michael Groover’s “My Delicious Life with Paula Deen.” Michael is married to Paula. Who better to teach us how to cook a shrimp dish than a shrimp boat captain himself? Mom and I actually got to meet Michael (and Paula!) during the “Paula Deen Live!” tour in Savannah in 2014. He’s such a nice guy! You can read about it in this post, “My Moment with the Queen of Southern Cuisine.”
The celery in this dish is actually one of my favorite things. It offers so much crunch alongside the plump and juicy shrimp. The white rice (cooked separately) soaks up all the juices and a pinch of cayenne pepper provides just the right kick. You could serve this over brown rice if you wanted to make it a little more nutritious, but the recipe is perfect just the way it is. I know you’re going to love it! Thanks, Cap’n Michael–this is one I’ll keep in my repertoire for a long time.
In the words of Michael, “Mama Groover would serve this over a bed of hot white rice along with some creamy coleslaw and corn bread.”
First Mate’s Shrimp Creole
An excerpt from “My Delicious Life with Paula Deen” by Michael Groover
- 1/4 cup flour
- 1/4 cup vegetable oil
- 3 medium-sized onions chopped
- 1/2 green bell pepper, chopped small
- 2 celery ribs chopped small
- 2 bay leaves
- 3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
- 1 cup tomato paste
- 3 cups water
- 1 tablespoon of lemon juice
- 1 cup white wine
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
- One 1-pound box of white rice
- 2-3 pounds of cleaned, peeled shrimp
In a large skillet, cook the flour and the oil on a low flame, constantly stirring it until it turns a nice golden brown. Now add your onions, bell pepper, celery, bay leaves, and garlic. Keep stirring or your roux can stick and burn. Add the tomato paste, mash it around the bottom of the skillet and cook it for 3 to 5 minutes (It will turn darker). Add 2 cups of water. Stir until the base is nice and smooth–let it simmer for 10 to 15 minutes. Should the base get too thick during the simmerin’, just add some of the third cup of water, a little at a time.
Your vegetables should be tender by now. Add any remaining water, the lemon juice, and the wine. Add the salt and cayenne and black pepper, cover the skillet with a tight-fitting lid, and let it cook over low heat for about 30 minutes. Stir everything around once in a while to make sure all is cooking evenly. Meanwhile, cook the rice according to package directions.
About 20 minutes before you’re ready to eat, put the shrimp in the skillet. Stir them around a little and drop your fire to very low so that the Creole just barely simmers and bubbles the least little bit. Y’all want to cook the shrimp good, but take care not to overcook them. Serve over the cooked rice.
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Georgia native Rebekah Faulk Lingenfelser is a freelance writer, entertainer and food enthusiast who writes and speaks about her love of good food and the Coastal South. A Season 2 Contestant on ABC TV’s “The Taste,” she is the Statesboro Herald food columnist and past host of the program “Statesboro Cooks.” Lingenfelser is a student at the award-winning Culinary Institute of Savannah. To learn more, visit RebekahFaulk.wix.com/RebekahFaulk or connect with Rebekah on social media by following Some Kinda Good on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.