Rick’s Siesta Key Shrimp Creole by Rick Brown

I customized a cookbook recipe and came up with something wonderful! You can make this spicier than I have here. But if you are dining with someone who does not like spicy foods, as I invariably do, just sprinkle a little Tabasco Sauce on it while you eat it. This works perfectly and keeps the peace at the table. The recipe as it reads will feed 6-8. But you can always make the Creole and separate off enough for 2 or 4, adjusting the amount of shrimp accordingly. You can freeze or refrigerate what’s left and add more shrimp for a later meal.

6 – 8 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
3 cups finely diced onions
2 ½ cups finely diced celery
2 ½ cups finely diced green bell pepper
1 ½ cups finely diced sweet red bell pepper
2 cups finely chopped green onions
3-4 cloves of garlic minced
¼ or ½ tsp cayenne (remember … you can always ADD but you can’t SUBTRACT!)
1 ½ tsp salt (or a few cranks of ground sea salt)
¾ tsp freshly ground black pepper (again, a few cranks or to taste)
¾ tsp fennel seeds
1 tsp Tabasco (see first paragraph – I leave it out and add when eating)
1 ½ Tbsp dried basil
1 ½ Tbsp dried thyme
3 or 4 bay leaves
4 cups shrimp stock (make your own – it’s easy)
1 ½ tsp sugar or honey (optional)
1 large can (28 oz) diced tomatoes with liquid
1 – 6 oz can tomato paste
1 ½ - 2 lbs shrimp peeled and deveined (I thaw out frozen raw shrimp)

In a Dutch oven or relatively large pot, heat the oil and add the onions. Sauté until brown (about 8 – 10 minutes) stirring frequently. Add the celery, green onions and bell peppers. Continue sautéing for another 5 minutes. Add the garlic, cayenne, salt, pepper, fennel, Tabasco (optional), basil and thyme. Continue cooking for about another 3 minutes. Stir occasionally throughout the process.

Add the shrimp stock, bay leaves, sugar or honey (optional), can of tomatoes, and tomato paste. Stir to combine ingredients.

Bring the Creole to a boil, then reduce the heat, partially cover, and simmer for at least one hour. Remember to stir every so often. At this point you can adjust the servings accordingly as I stated earlier. What is not used for this dinner keeps well in the refrigerator for a week or can be frozen.

Be sure to begin steaming rice 20 minutes or so before dinnertime. After the rice is ready, re-heat the Creole, add the shrimp and cook for 5 or 6 minutes or until translucent. Serve over the rice. YUM!!