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What a week it has been! I usually make tentative plans for the week and then go with the flow. This week has been more like running crazy than going with the flow. We are adding some additional corrals and getting ready to start our fall cow work next week. Have you heard the saying, “It takes all the hands and the cook.” that means me too.
I am not much of a cowgirl when it comes to riding horses, so I get to ride the four wheeler. Our four wheeler has been having a few mechanical issues, so we needed to haul it to the repair place. Someone, not my boys of course, had torn the lights off of the trailer that we haul the four wheeler on.
I picked up new trailer lights from the parts store and thought I would try to help my husband out by putting them on the trailer. This may not seem like a big deal, but those who know exactly how mechanically declined that I actually am, it is impressive. I did it and the lights worked, even the blinkers! I was quite proud of myself.
My week has been more about the ranch work and less about the food but I know you are dying to hear about this fantastic Cajun Shrimp Stew. I get to share this recipe with you! This Cajun Shrimp Stew was right in line with all of the other recipes that I have tried from the Sizzling Skillets and Other One-Pot Wonders, truly fabulous. The whole clan loved it. This is the recipe that my boys have been begging for and they were very happy. Shrimp is a real treat on a cattle ranch!
This comforting, simple stew is a Cajun dish that many home cooks in Louisiana enjoy, especially during the Lenten season. It is easy to make and feeds a bunch. The trick is getting the roux to the right color . . . about a notch darker than peanut butter should do the trick. A homemade shrimp stock makes all the difference in the world. Make sure to add the shrimp just before serving so that they stay nice and tender. Some families boil eggs in their shrimp stew (as it simmers) to make the dish even heartier.
Cajun Shrimp Stew
- 1 cup vegetable oil
- 1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
- 2 ½ cups finely chopped onion
- ¼ cup minced garlic (about 12 cloves)
- 10 cups Rich Shrimp Stock *
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 ¼ teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
- ¾ teaspoon cayenne
- 2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme leaves
- 1 ½ tablespoons kosher salt
- 3 large baking potatoes (2 ½ to 3 pounds), peeled and cut into 2-inch pieces
- 2 pounds small or medium shrimp, peeled and deveined
- ¼ cup chopped green onion, green part only
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley leaves
- Steamed long-grain white rice, for serving
1. Heat the oil in a heavy-bottomed Dutch oven over medium-high heat and, when hot, add the flour. Whisk to combine and continue to cook, stirring constantly, until a medium roux is formed (it should look a bit darker than peanut butter), about 10 minutes. (If the roux begins to brown too quickly, reduce the heat to medium or medium-low and take your time—it is important that the roux not be burned at all or the stew will have a bitter taste.) As soon as the roux is the right color, add the chopped onion and cook until soft, stirring occasionally, 4 to 6 minutes.
Add the garlic and cook for 2 minutes. Stir in the stock, little by little, and bring the sauce to a gentle boil. Add the bay leaves, black pepper, cayenne, thyme, and 4 teaspoons of the salt and reduce the heat so that the sauce just simmers. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the floury taste is gone, 30 to 45 minutes.
2. Add the potatoes and continue to cook, uncovered and stirring occasionally, until the potatoes are very tender and the sauce is thick and flavorful, 30 to 40 minutes longer. (Add a bit of water or chicken broth to thin the gravy should the stew get too thick during the cook time. The sauce is meant to be thick and rich but not pasty.)
3. Toss the shrimp with the remaining ½ teaspoon salt. Stir the shrimp, green onion, and parsley into the stew and continue to cook until the shrimp are just cooked through, 3 to 4 minutes. Taste and adjust the seasoning if necessary. Remove the bay leaves. Serve the stew in shallow bowls over hot white rice.
6 to 8 servings
*Rich Shrimp Stock
This stock is so easy to make, yet so flavorful—make a batch every time you have shells and heads from fresh shrimp and you’ll never have to worry about where to get shrimp stock again. You’ll find that toasting the shells in oil before adding the water gives added depth to this stock, which can be used in countless ways.
- 1 to 1 ½ pounds shrimp shells and heads
- 1 tablespoon vegetable or olive oil
- 14 cups water
- 1 large onion, unpeeled, roughly chopped (the onion peel deepens the color of the stock)
- ½ cup roughly chopped celery
- 2 small carrots, roughly chopped
- 2 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 2 teaspoons black peppercorns
- 3 sprigs fresh thyme
- 2 large sprigs fresh parsley
1. Rinse the shrimp shells and heads in a large colander under cold running water and allow to drain.
2. In a large stockpot, heat the oil over medium-high heat. When hot, add the shrimp shells and cook, stirring occasionally, until the shells are pink and toasty-fragrant, 4 to 6 minutes.
Add the water and all the remaining ingredients and bring to a boil over high heat, skimming any foam that comes to the surface. Reduce the heat to medium-low and continue to cook at a slow simmer until the stock is flavorful, 45 to 60 minutes.
3. Strain the stock through a fine-mesh sieve into a large heatproof bowl and allow it to cool completely. Cover and refrigerate for up to 3 days before using. (The stock may also be placed in airtight containers and frozen for up to several months.)
About 12 cups
Note: You can easily double the ingredient amounts to make a larger batch of stock.
To save space in the freezer, you can reduce the stock further after straining and discarding the solids. Just add water to the defrosted stock to reconstitute as needed.