This bayou staple is all about a deep, complex roux, and fresh, sweet seafood. For a flavorful base, we make our own stock using shrimp shells and a handful of aromatics. Toasting the dry flour before adding the butter speeds up the roux without sacrificing flavor—we get a deep mahogany mixture in only minutes. The holy trinity—onion, celery, and green bell pepper—is a Creole must, and we round out these traditional flavors with tomato, thyme, garlic, paprika, and (sometimes a little cayenne) Adding the shrimp during the last 5 minutes of cooking keeps it tender, and a final addition of Worcestershire, along with a squeeze of lemon, brightens it up.
2poundsextra-large shrimp21 to 25 per pound, peeled and deveined, shells reserved
Salt and pepper
8garlic cloves2 peeled and smashed, 6 minced
2sprigs fresh thymeplus 1 teaspoon minced
1green bell pepperstemmed, seeded, and chopped
1candiced tomatoes14.5-ounce can
Cooked white rice
Melt 1 tablespoon butter in Dutch oven over medium heat. Add shrimp shells, 2 cups onion, 1/2 cup celery, and 1 teaspoon salt and cook, stirring occasionally, until shells are spotty brown, about 10 minutes. Add water, smashed garlic, peppercorns, bay leaves, and thyme sprigs and bring to boil. Reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer for 30 minutes. Strain shrimp stock through fine-mesh strainer set over large bowl, pressing on solids to extract as much liquid as possible; discard solids. Wash and dry pot. (Stock can be refrigerated for 3 days or frozen for up to 1 month.)
Toast flour in now-empty pot over medium heat, stirring constantly, until just beginning to brown, about 5 minutes. Whisk in remaining 8 tablespoons butter until melted and combined with flour. Continue to cook, whisking constantly, until deep brown, 4 to 6 minutes.
Add bell pepper, remaining onion, remaining celery, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper and cook, stirring often, until vegetables are softened, 10 to 12 minutes. Add paprika, cayenne, minced garlic, and minced thyme and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Stir in tomatoes and their juice and cook until dry, about 1 minute. Slowly whisk in 4 cups shrimp stock until incorporated (reserve any remaining stock for another use). Bring to boil, reduce heat to medium-low, and simmer until slightly thickened, about 25 minutes.
Season shrimp with salt and pepper, add to pot, and simmer until cooked through, about 5 minutes. Stir in scallions and Worcestershire. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve over rice with hot sauce and lemon wedges.
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