Sunday, February 03, 2008

Gettin' Ready for Fat Tuesday

As we were all reminded at Mass this morning, Lent is quite literally around the corner. This year, we have Super Bowl Sunday, when everyone eats and drinks lots of not-so-healthy game day snacks, back to back with Ash Wednesday, the start of the holiest season of the Catholic calendar and one that means fasting, abstinence and reflection. Fortunately, we have Mardi Gras in the middle to help us get from one to the other.

Jotted down in pen in the blank pages of a much-used cookbook that I found in my parents' house, is the recipe I decided to try this weekend: Shrimp Remoulade. If you do an on-line search for this recipe, you'll find as many variations on the theme as there are Cajuns in Louisiana (one of the places of origin of this dish). The version I copied down from the recipe file was an oil-based emulsion. Other remoulades (like those made with celery root) call for mayonnaise as the dressing base instead. This is the perfect, lightly spicy dish that, along with a small side of boiled white rice, would be a wonderful starter for any Fat Tuesday party that you might be having.

I'm keeping my post super short this weekend as the big game is getting ready to start. I've got to support the boys in blue of my adopted hometown. Let's hope they pull it off, otherwise, it will be kind of miserable in the office tomorrow, with everyone armchair-quarterbacking the loss.



Shrimp Remoulade

Prep Time: 30 minutes, plus time for the shrimp to chill
Serving Size: 4-5 portions of 5-6 shrimp each, depending upon size of shrimp

Ingredients:
1 to 1-1/2 pounds medium-count shrimp
several lemon slices
1 bay leaf
1 Tsp. red peppercorns
1 hard-cooked egg, chopped

Dressing:
1-1/2 c. light olive oil
1/2 c. Creole mustard (or strong mustard)
1/2 c. white wine vinegar
1 tsp salt
3/4 tsp Tabasco sauce
2 Tsp. paprika
1 c. minced celery
2 Tsp. grated white or yellow onion
1/4 c. minced parsley
1 Tsp. minced green pepper


Assembly:

Whisk together the first six ingredients of the dressing until emulsified (i.e., it looks like a thick dressing) and everything is completely combined. Add the rest of the dressing ingredients and mix together again.

Fill a large pan with enough water to allow shrimp to cook without being crammed together. To the water add the lemon, bay leaf and peppercorns and bring to a boil. Add the shrimp and let cook until they have all risen to the top and are thoroughly cooked, about five minutes at most. Drain shrimp immediately and rise with cold water to keep them from being overcooked.

If the shrimp were not peeled initially (I prefer to cook mine with the peels on.), peel the shrimp as quickly as possible in order to add them to the dressing while still slightly warm. Chill for several hours and then serve cold, garnished with the chopped hard-cooked egg and with boiled white rice or crackers on the side.


There is a note on the recipe card that the dressing can be made up to a week in advance and that the shrimp can be left to soak in it for two to three days in advance, if kept very cold.

Buon appetito!

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