Shrimp Étouffée

A very good friend of mine just got out from a week in the hospital after getting a heart bypass, so I decided to make him something delicious and comforting. Shrimp Étouffée fits the bill perfectly – I mean, c’mon smothered is IN the name. This classic dish was my gateway to Cajun/Creole cooking. It is much easier than gumbo as you only need to cook the roux to blonde plus it is ready in under an hour.

While this is already a full flavor/lower fat dish, I did want it to be a little more heart healthy for him so I made up a batch of my Creole Seasoning with no salt (original recipe here), used low sodium chicken stock and no salt added tomato sauce, and am serving it with brown rice.

To up the shrimp flavor, make your own shrimp stock. Peel the shrimp and place the shells in a medium saucepan. Cook over low heat until shells start to turn pink, stirring regularly to prevent burning. Add 6 cups of water, a celery stalk broken in half, a carrot similarly broken and a bay leaf and increase heat to high. Bring to a boil and then reduce heat and simmer for 30 minutes. Strain to remove solids. Use 1 cup in the recipe and freeze the rest in 1 cup measures for later uses.

It tastes like you spent all day over a hot stove – the natural heat from the Ro-tel plus the Creole seasoning gently warms you from the tongue to your tummy making this a lovely meal on a cold night. For those who want less heat, double the tomato sauce and eat more rice with each bite. For those who need more, add a dash or two of hot sauce at the table.

Shrimp Étouffée

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 small yellow onion, chopped fine
1 small green bell pepper, chopped fine
2 stalks of celery, chopped fine
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons flour
1 can RoTel tomatoes and green chilies
1 -5 oz can tomato sauce
1 cup chicken stock
1 pound shrimp, peeled and deveined
2 teaspoons Creole seasoning

Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Heat oil in a large saucepan or Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add onion and sauté until the onions have turned golden, at least 10 minutes. Add bell pepper, celery and garlic. Sprinkle with a pinch of salt and sauté until tender and garlic is fragrant, about 5 minutes.

Stir in butter and flour and cook until the roux is golden brown, up to 10 minutes. Be sure to stir constantly and don’t let it darken too much.

Reduce heat to low; add RoTel, tomato sauce and stock. Simmer for 10-15 minutes or so until thickened. Toss shrimp with Creole seasonings and put into the saucepan. Simmer until shrimp are cooked through, about 10 minutes. Remove from heat and taste for seasonings.

Serve over rice. Have hot sauce on the table for those who need more heat.

Alabama Hot Brown

From the Brown Hotel in Louisville, Kentucky comes their 1920’s creation of an open-faced turkey sandwich with bacon, tomato slices and a cheese sauce (their recipe here) called a Kentucky Hot Brown.

My version is a little different. I’m using Thanksgiving leftovers so we’re ladling on gravy instead of cheese sauce because gravy goes well on everything. As tomatoes are out of season, we are using some tomato jam.

Mom had me spread leftover cranberry sauce on hers instead of the tomato jam and it paired really well, especially with the Muenster cheese I put on hers and which shows the versatility of this sandwiches’ construction.

The sandwich is a delicious change from the usual leftover, post-Turkey day fare and will fill up those Black Friday shoppers’ bellies.

This recipe is for 4 people but it scales up if you’re serving a larger crowd.

Alabama Hot Brown

4 slices of thick sandwich bread
1 cup gravy
½ cup of tomato jam or one large, vine ripened tomato, sliced thinly
8 thick slices roast turkey breast
8 slices bacon, cooked to crispy
4 ounces sharp cheddar cheese, grated

Lightly toast the sandwich bread and set on a rimmed baking sheet.

Warm the gravy in a double boiler so it doesn’t thicken too much.

Set the broiler on low and put the rack in the middle of the oven.

Spread a layer of tomato jam on the toast or place thin slices of tomato on it. Place 2 slices of turkey (or more to cover) on each piece of bread. Place bacon on top. Generously cover with spoonfuls of gravy and sprinkle with cheese.

Place the baking sheet into the broiler and roast until cheese is melty. Serve immediately.

Shrimp Risotto

We boiled up several pounds of shrimp the other day and froze what we didn’t eat in pint bags. My girlfriend had given me some arborio rice last time I saw her and I thought making risotto would be super comforting as the weather is starting to turn colder.

If you’re starting with raw shrimp, just sauté the peeled and deveined shrimp in butter until pink and then set aside until the rice is ready.

My folks aren’t white wine fans, so there wasn’t any in the house. If you are, add a half cup to the shrimp when you sauté them and a cup to the softened onion before adding the rice and serve the rest of the bottle with the meal.

However you do it, make some risotto soon – it is as delicious as it looks.

Shrimp Risotto

5-6 cups unsalted chicken broth
¼ cup butter (half stick), unsalted
1 cup onion, finely chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup arborio rice
zest and juice a lemon half
salt and pepper to taste
parmesan cheese

Bring the chicken broth to a simmer in a medium saucepan.

Melt the butter in a Dutch oven or other heavy saucepan. Sauté the onion until softened and golden, about 5 minutes over medium heat. Toss in the garlic and sauté until fragrant. Add in the arborio rice and stir until well coated and begins to smell slightly nutty, about 3 minutes.

Traditionally, you add the warmed chicken broth one cup a time and stir until absorbed before adding the next. I cheat and add all the broth at once. I give it a stir and cover and simmer for 20 minutes, coming back and stirring every five minutes. After 20 minutes, I add in the lemon zest and juice and continue to cook just until the rice tender but still has some bite. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Toss in the shrimp for them to warm up and serve with some grated parmesan cheese.

Garlic Buttermilk Soaked Grilled Chicken

I modified this one from a recipe on the back of the Morton Kosher Salt box. The first thing I did was move the cooking outside as it has been awfully hot and humid lately and I didn’t want to heat up the kitchen.

I’m over at my folks (I evacuated ahead of Marco and Laura) and so I ended up using dried rosemary and lemon juice. I had left a head of garlic here that was about to sprout, so I went ahead and used all of it in the brine.

The buttermilk soak makes for a tender and juicy chicken, even when portions of the drumsticks got over 185 degrees F on the grill. All the flavorings in the brine just raised the deliciousness!

The grilled sweet potato recipe is HERE.

Garlic

1 quart buttermilk
½ cup olive oil
1-2 tablespoons hot sauce, I used Louisiana hot sauce
1 head garlic (about 10 cloves), crushed
3 tablespoons kosher salt
2 tablespoon black peppercorns, crushed
3-4 large sprigs rosemary (about ¼ cup dried leaves)
2 lemons, thinly sliced (or 3 tablespoons lemon juice)
¼ cup honey

10 lbs chicken leg quarters

olive oil
salt and pepper

Whisk together all brine ingredients until well mixed. Add chicken to the brine, cover and refrigerate overnight or for up to two days.

Remove chicken from brine and brush off any garlic, peppercorns or rosemary leaves which may have stuck to it. Place chicken on a rack above a rimmed baking sheet. Pat dry.

Prepare the grill for indirect cooking. I use a chimney starter full of charcoal briquets spread on either side so I will be able to put the chicken down the center of my Weber grill.

Soak some hickory chips or a chunk in water.

When coals are well lit, spread out and toss in the hickory to smoke. Cover the grill and let the grate heat up. When you see smoke, it is ready to start grilling the chicken.

Rub olive oil into the chicken and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Place skin side down on the grill. After 15 minutes, flip chicken over and cook for 45 minutes to 60 minutes more or until a thermometer registers 175 degrees F. You may need to move chicken around to make sure it all grills evenly.

Rest for at least 5 minutes before serving.

Lemon Sauce for Chicken

Lunch was leftover schnitzel. I’m treating it more like chicken piccata so I needed a lemon sauce to go over it. I didn’t want something harshly lemon but a more rounded sauce with the addition of garlic and milk that wouldn’t take a lot of time to make.

Had I been cooking the chicken, the flour that would have fallen off during browning would have been enough to thicken the sauce. As I’m just warming the chicken up, I needed to make a slurry of cornstarch and chicken broth as my thickener.

You can make the sauce richer by adding cream instead of milk.

This is light but rich sauce with good lemon flavor.

Lemon Sauce

2 teaspoons olive oil
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 1/4 cups plus 1 tablespoon chicken broth
1 1/2 teaspoon cornstarch
Juice and zest of one lemon (about 3 tablespoons juice)
2 tablespoons butter
1/4 cup milk or cream
salt and pepper to taste

Heat oil in a medium skillet. Add garlic and sauté just until fragrant and slightly golden.

Pour in 1 1/4 cups chicken broth and bring to a boil, while scraping up browned bits from bottom of pan. Allow broth to simmer until reduced by half, about 5 minutes.

Whisk together remaining chicken broth with cornstarch to form a slurry, then pour mixture into broth in skillet along with lemon juice and zest. Allow to simmer about 5 minutes until it has thickened slightly then remove from heat.

Stir in butter and pour in milk or cream. Season with salt and pepper, if needed.

Spoon sauce over chicken. Serve warm.

 

Cheetos Coated Chicken Breasts or Pork Chops

I’m a fan of Cheetos. I mean, who doesn’t like their cheese to go crunch?

I was watching TicTok and saw a chef coat a turkey in Flaming Hot Cheeto Crunch before roasting and thought that would make some tasty chicken breasts.

I confess it is a pain to measure out the uncrushed Cheetos, so I recommend pounding a couple of handfuls at a time until you get 2 cups.

How right I was – and there was the added bonus that it blew my parents’ minds.

Oh, and they go great on pork chops, too!

Delish!

Cheetos coated Chicken Breasts or Pork Chops

3 large boneless skinless chicken breasts or 3 pork chops
1 cup all-purpose flour
3 eggs, beaten in a little olive oil
2 cups crushed Cheetos Crunchy Cheese Flavored Snacks
½ cup vegetable shortening

If using chicken breasts, pound them to a uniform thickness.

Place flour in a pie plate. Place eggs in another shallow dish. Place the crushed Cheetos in another pie plate.

For both chicken and pork chops, dredge both sides in flour, coat in egg and then press into the Cheetos. Once all the meat has been coated, put it in the fridge for at least an hour.

Heat a large cast iron skillet with the vegetable shortening. Once the oil comes to about 350 degrees F, gently set the meat into the pan. Cook about ten minutes each side or until beautifully browned. Fully cooked chicken will register 165 degrees F and pork chops will register 145 degrees F when done.

Remove to a paper towel lined rack and let cool for 5 minutes before serving. We ate ours with baked sweet potatoes.

Rosemary Garlic Sage Rubbed Grilled Chicken

I bought a whole chicken the other day and found a partial case of old light beer when cleaning my parent’s garage. That made it easy to decide to grill it using the beer can up the the butt method. The added moisture from the beer keeps the chicken moist through the grilling, so you don’t need to brine it.

The rub is all things that are delicious with chicken – rosemary, garlic, sage plus salt and pepper. While the amount I fixed had enough for one chicken, it keeps well in an airtight container, so feel free to double the recipe and keep extra on hand.

I forgot to take a picture before I started carving but you can see how moist the meat and beautifully crisp the skin is after 70 minutes grilling and ten minutes of resting. Very tasty and the leftovers make awesome chicken salad.

Be very careful when removing the chicken from the grill – the can will be slick and the chicken is now top heavy so it can easily slide off a pan. Of course a few grassy notes won’t harm anyone and, if you’re quick to pick it back up, no will ever know you dropped it.

Not that I speak from experience or anything.

Rosemary Garlic Sage Rubbed Grilled Chicken


3-5 lb whole chicken
1 can beer
2 cloves garlic
1 tablespoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon dried rosemary
1 teaspoon granulated garlic
1 teaspoon rubbed sage
½ teaspoon black pepper
6 tablespoons butter, softened

Pour off about a third of the can of beer and cut the top partially off. Drop in the garlic cloves.

Combine the salt, rosemary, garlic, sage and black pepper. Mix with your fingers. Set aside.

Loosen the skin of the chicken and smear pats of butter under the skin. Use any leftover butter to coat the outside of the skin. Sprinkle the rub onto the chicken about 1 hour before grilling, turning it over to coat all sides.

Set up the grill for indirect cooking. I usually make a half circle with the coals. Ease the very slick chicken down on top of the beer can. It will take a little effort to work it down but, once it is on, the legs will act as a tripod and it will sit securely on the grates.

Grill for 1 hour, with the back of the chicken facing the coals. Take its temperature after 60 minutes and then turn it carefully to finish cooking with the breast side facing the coals.

When the internal temperature has reached 170, remove the chicken from the grill. Use tongs to separate the hot can of beer from the chicken and discard. Let rest for at least 5 minutes before carving and serving.

Herbes de Provence Turkey Brine

Winn-Dixie had a sale on bone-in turkey breast and so I donned my mask and headed out to the grocery to pick one up. I brined the turkey breast overnight before placing it in my Dad’s Weber over a pan of water and grilled it for almost 3 hours.

We served it with the last of the asparagus and some potato cakes made from potatoes leftover from the shrimp/crawfish boil on Mother’s Day (recipe here).

Lots of yummy, tasty goodness. Can’t wait for sandwiches, though!

This brine is good on chicken, too.

Herbes de Provence Turkey Brine

½ cup coarse kosher salt
½ cup brown sugar
juice of 2 lemons, about ¼ cup (keep rind)
3 tablespoons Herbes de Provence
2 quarts water

1 bone-in turkey breast, 4-6 lbs

3 tablespoons butter, softened

Dissolve salt and sugar in three cups of water. Once the salt and sugar are dissolved, add in 1 cup of ice and stir until melted. Add in lemon juice and herbes de Provence. Let brine cool to room temperature.

Cut through the turkey’s backbone and split open in a butterfly. Place turkey in zip top bag with the lemon rinds and add water to the brine to bring it to 2 quarts. Pour into the bag and seal. Place in the fridge for 12-18 hours. If you don’t have a large enough bag, place in a pot big enough to cover the bird. Put a plate on top to keep it submerged.

Remove from fridge while starting to heat the coals. Rinse and pat dry. Use your fingers to loosen the skin. Press pieces of the softened butter under the skin and rub any extra over the skin.

Set grill for indirect cooking – I banked all the charcoal on one side. Add a wood chip like hickory for smoke. Place a pan with water on the opposite side to the coals. Put the turkey on the grate over the pan of water, with thickest part closest to the fire. Grill over indirect coals for at least 2 hours or until the internal temperature of the meat registers 165 degrees F.

 

#FrontYardCookout Beef Brisket

May is National BBQ Month and I’m starting it right with a beef brisket on the grill. On May 1st, I covered a 9lb beef brisket in a Dalmatian rub (equal parts kosher salt and black pepper) and wrapped it in plastic wrap and placed it in the fridge overnight.

Today, I pulled it out of the fridge to come to room temperature. I then followed the ATK method (outlined here) and lined Dad’s Weber Grill with a charcoal snake and lit one side for a slow, 5 hour burn with a couple hunks of hickory for lovely smoke. I placed a pan of water in the center of the grill to keep things nice and humid in there.

When it hit the stall, around 160-170 degrees F, I wrapped it well in aluminum foil and let it continue to cook to 200 degrees F, about 3 hours more. Timing here is all estimates based on weight of the meat and temperature of the grill. Rule of thumb is it takes about 1 hour 15 minutes per pound at 250 degrees F.

Once you remove the brisket from the grill, leave it wrapped for at least an hour and up to three to rest and let the juices redistribute and the meat to relax. I put it in a cooler in order to lessen the temptation to snack on it during this time.

Slice against the grain and give the eaters a choice of cuts from the flat or “lean” portion or the point or “fatty” portion. Anyway you slice it is a truly mouthwatering experience.

Oscar Mayer is encouraging people to get outside while maintaining a social distance of 12 hot dogs apart to cook for a cause. Bring your grill to the front yard and cookout with your neighbors while giving back! The company will donate one million meals to Feeding America, and each time someone shares their cookout on social media with the hashtag #FrontYardCookout, Oscar Mayer will donate an additional meal to the nonprofit organization, for up to one million extra meals.

Here I am in the front yard, cooking out!

Buttermilk Ranch Oven Fried Chicken Drumsticks

I cook a lot of chicken but my favorite kind of chicken is fried. I really like the drumsticks, when they’ve been done right so the meat is juicy and the skin is crunchy. This process has the oven fry the chicken and, while you need be careful when moving the oven rack and turning and removing the chicken so as not to spill the oil, it makes a pretty delicious fried chicken.

I had a 10lb bag of chicken leg quarters that I divided and used the thighs for another recipe.

This being the time of isolation, I had no ranch seasoning in the house. However, I made one up from the spices in my parent’s cabinet.

It was quite good with the skin crunchy and the meat flavorful and juicy.

Buttermilk Ranch Oven Fried Chicken Drumsticks

4 lbs chicken parts (I used drumsticks)
1 quart buttermilk
4 teaspoons kosher salt
1 teaspoon ground black pepper

1 tablespoon dried parsley
2 teaspoons dried dill weed
1 teaspoon celery seed
1 tablespoon garlic powder
1 tablespoon onion powder
1 teaspoon kosher salt
½ teaspoon ground black pepper
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup buttermilk

1 cup peanut oil

Place drumsticks in a zip top bag. Combine buttermilk, salt and pepper and pour over the chicken. Seal the bag well and place in the refrigerator overnight.

Mix together the ranch seasoning ingredients with the flour. Place in a shallow dish. Pour the buttermilk in another dish.

Roll the brined chicken pieces in the flour, a few at a time, until well coated. Then, dip chicken in the buttermilk followed by another coat of seasoned flour. Place on wire rack when done and keep in the refrigerator while the oven comes to temperature. Letting the chicken dry out a bit will help the coating stay on better.

Preheat oven to 450 with a 12″ cast iron skillet and the peanut oil in it. The oil should come up about ½ inch of the skillet. It is important to be heating the oil and skillet as the oven heats.

After the oven has been at temperature for 15 minutes, open oven and use tongs to carefully place chicken in the hot oil. Be careful here, especially when moving the oven rack in and out.

Cook for 30 minutes. Turn drumsticks over and cook for 30 minutes more. Internal temperature of the drumsticks will be 175-180 degrees F. Remove to paper towels to drain and serve.