1green bell peppercored, seeded and coarsely chopped
3cupscanned tomatoes with their liquid
3sprigsfresh thymeor ½ teaspoon dried
½teaspoongrated lemon rind
12dashesTabascoor to taste
Salt and pepperto taste
2tablespoonsfinely chopped parsley
Juice of ½ lemon
Rinse the shrimp and set them aside in a colander to drain.
Chop the onion, celery, and bell pepper. Mince the garlic.
Place a large saucepan, Dutch oven, or deep skillet on medium heat. Add the butter.
When the butter has melted, add the onion. Cook, stirring until the onion is slightly softened. Be careful not to let the onion brown.
Add the celery, green pepper, and garlic. Cook for 5 minutes, stirring, or until vegetables are softened.
Add the tomatoes with their liquid. Next, add the thyme, bay leaf, Tabasco, lemon rind, salt, and pepper. Simmer 15 minutes uncovered until the liquid has reduced by about half.
Stir the well-drained shrimp into the Creole sauce. Cover and cook for 4 to 5 minutes, no longer.
When the shrimp are done, turn off the heat and add the chopped parsley, lemon juice, and, if desired, more Tabasco (or other hot sauce) to taste.
Serve over hot, steamed rice.
If you live in an area where fresh shrimp are available, by all means, use them! There are, however, very good frozen brands available. If possible, purchase shrimp that are already peeled and deveined. It will save loads of prep time. I prefer to also remove the tails for this recipe. It makes eating so much easier for your family and guests. However, you can certainly leave the tails on if you like.
Adjust the spice level to your liking by adding more or less hot sauce to the recipe. Some cooks prefer to use cayenne pepper instead of Tabasco. I'd suggest starting with a quarter teaspoon cayenne pepper and adjusting up or down from there.
For a different flavor, add some cooked bacon or andouille sausage to the sauce.
You can even substitute catfish for the shrimp and make Catfish Creole.
You can substitute brown rice or pasta for the steamed white rice.
If using frozen shrimp, thaw overnight in your refrigerator or by placing in a bowl of very cold water for several hours. Be sure to drain well in a colander before adding to the sauce.To make ahead, cook the recipe up to the point where you would add the shrimp. Let the cooked sauce cool and store in the refrigerator. When ready to serve, place the sauce over medium heat and bring it to temperature and then finish the recipe.To freeze, make the sauce, cool it, and store it in a freezer safe container. When you're ready to use it, thaw and reheat the sauce. Then add the shrimp and finish the recipe from that point.TOP TIP: The biggest mistake people make with shrimp is overcooking them. If you've ever gotten a rubbery, tough shrimp it's because it was overcooked. Five minutes is usually the limit.