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  • Writer's pictureTommy Centola

Try Shrimp a few different ways

Unfortunately, finding fresh shrimp here in North Central Arkansas is hard. The good news is that shrimp freezes easy and with good results. In local grocery stores, you can find them in different sizes, cooked or uncooked and peeled or tail on. When buying frozen shrimp, always buy Gulf shrimp. They are better quality than any imported shrimp and you are supporting the gulf shrimpers.

Since shrimp cook quickly, you can have a delectable dinner in a short period of time. So today, I am sharing two quick and succulent shrimp dishes, Shrimp Stew and Cajun Shrimp Carbonara.

Most stews take hours to make. Since shrimp cook quickly, you can have this stew on your table within an hour. Traditionally, shrimp stew is served over cooked rice. One night, instead of cooking rice, I used leftover jambalaya. The results were unbelievably delicious. Now, jambalaya almost always lines the bottom of my shrimp stew.

Shrimp Stew

1 pound Small Shrimp (70/90 count) peeled and deveined

1/2 cup Canola Oil

1/2 cup Flour

1/2 cup Onion, diced

1/4 cup Celery, diced

1/4 cup Green Bell Pepper, diced

1/4 cup Garlic, minced

4 cups Seafood Stock

2 tablespoons Creole Seasoning

2 Bay Leaves

1 tablespoon Paprika

1 tablespoon Thyme

1 tablespoon Marjoram

Salt and Pepper to taste

Heat the oil in a heavy bottomed 4 to 6 quart pan. Add the flour and mix. When the roux is dark brown, add the onion, celery and bell pepper. Cook for one minute and add garlic. Cook another minute then, while stirring, slowly add the seafood stock. Bring to a boil then lower heat to a simmer. Add dry seasonings and mix well. Cook for 20 minutes to develop flavors. Five minutes before you serve, slightly increase the heat. Add the shrimp and cook until done. Add salt and pepper to taste. Serve over jambalaya or cooked rice.

Pasta Carbonara is an Italian dish made with bacon, eggs and cheese. A true Carbonara is made with no cream. The sauce is made by the egg yolks and Parmesan Cheese. I wanted to do my own version of this classic dish. Shrimp are a great addition to this dish. I also have replaced the bacon with my favorite Cajun ingredient, Andouille sausage.

Cajun Shrimp Carbonara

1 pound dried Pasta, such as fettuccine or spaghetti

1/2 pound Andouille Sausage chopped

2 tablespoons Olive Oil ( if needed)

2 cloves Garlic, minced

1/2 cup low-sodium Chicken Broth

12 ounces Raw Shrimp (60-80 count), peeled and deveined

1/2 cup Hot Pasta Water

2 Egg Yolks

1/2 cup Freshly Grated Parmesan Cheese

1/2 teaspoon Kosher Salt and freshly ground Black Pepper

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil for the pasta. In a large sauté pan, cook Andouille until fat is rendered and sausage is a little crispy. Use a slotted spoon to remove Andouille and set aside. Pour off all but 2 tablespoons of rendered fat. If necessary, add olive oil to pan make 2 tablespoons fat. Sauté garlic in bacon fat over medium heat for about 1-2 minutes. Add chicken broth and shrimp to the pan. Cook over medium high heat until the shrimp are cooked through, 4-5 minutes. Season shrimp with salt and pepper to taste. At the same time, add pasta to the boiling water and cook according to package directions. Once pasta is cooked, reserve 1/2 cup of pasta water. In a small bowl, slowly combine hot pasta water with egg yolks, whisking the entire time. Remove sauté pan from heat, the add hot pasta water egg yolk mixture, Parmesan cheese, and Andouille and toss to combine. Garnish with more black pepper and serve.

As Bubba Blue from Forrest Gump said, “Shrimp is the fruit of the sea.” They ways you can prepare them are almost endless. But remember, always use Gulf shrimp.

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