Charleston natives Matt and Ted Lee have done modern cooks a favor in their just-published cookbook, where this recipe comes from. Southern cooking is not just about the long-simmered thises and thats; their newfangled chicken and dumplings takes 35 minutes, and their pimento cheese potato gratin takes just 45 minutes.
This version of creole eliminates half of the usual ingredients yet still manages to start with a quick shrimp broth as its base. Adding the shrimp off the heat is a small stroke of genius: They cook through without getting tough.
Serve over hot grits or rice.
- 1 pound (headless) shell-on large shrimp (26 to 30 per pound)
- 1 cup water
- 1 1/4 teaspoons kosher salt
- 5 to 6 (1 3/4 pounds) vine-ripened tomatoes
- 6 ounces hot/spicy pork sausage meat (no casings)
- 1 large white or yellow onion
- 3 medium cloves garlic
- 1 large poblano chile pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon smoked Spanish paprika
- 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
- 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
Peel the shrimp and place the shells in a small saucepan set over medium heat. Add the water and 1/4 teaspoon of the salt, and cook for 5 or 6 minutes, until the liquid has reduced by half.
While the shrimp stock cooks, devein the shrimp.
Set a fine-mesh strainer over a large bowl. Cut the tomatoes in half crosswise and use a finger to coax the gel and seeds from the cavities of each half, letting them fall into the strainer. Gently shake the strainer so the gel drips into the bowl beneath. Discard the seeds.
Chop the remaining tomato flesh; the yield should be 2 cups. Add it to the bowl with the strained tomato liquid.
Strain the shrimp broth into the bowl with the tomatoes; discard the shells.
Place the sausage in a medium Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Cook uncovered for about 6 minutes, using a wooden spoon to stir and break up the meat; the pork should be just browned, with some of its fat rendered.
While the sausage is cooking, chop the onion (to yield about 1 1/2 cups). Mince the garlic. Stem and seed the poblano chili pepper, then finely chop the remaining flesh (to yield about 1 cup).
Add the onion, garlic, poblano chili pepper, the remaining teaspoon of salt, the black pepper, paprika, and crushed red pepper flakes to the sausage in the Dutch oven; mix well. Cook for about 6 minutes, stirring until the pepper and onion have softened.
Add the chopped tomatoes and their liquid and the strained shrimp broth to the sausage-vegetable mixture. Increase the heat to high and cook for 6 minutes, so the tomatoes mostly break down into a bubbling liquid.
Remove from the heat; add the shrimp and vinegar, stirring to incorporate (make sure the shrimp are completely submerged in the stew). Cover and let stand for 3 minutes; the shrimp should be just cooked through.
Divide among individual plates, preferably on top of hot grits or rice.
Adapted from "The Lee Bros. Simple Fresh Southern" (Clarkson Potter, 2009).
Tested by Bonnie S. Benwick.
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