We interrupt our trip to New Orleans, LA (NOLA hereafter) for some current events. But first, Happy Labor Day.
We brought home a few things from our trip to Louisiana (another good reason to drive), much of which we couldn’t get around here and some I’ve seen used by Mary, at Deep South Dish and Katherine, at Smoky Mountain Cafe. From a dry standpoint, we got this assortment that contains Zatarains Pro Boil, Tabasco bloody mary mix (which I've already tried and liked), Steens pure cane syrup for use in BBQ sauces, a quart of Central Grocery's Olive Salad for muffulettas, Zatarains Creole seasoning, Slap Ya Mama seasoning, a Tabasco gift pack for our friend David who carries his bottle of Tabasco sauce with him at all times, a Tabasco tabletop assortment for us, plus a couple more bottles of chipotle sauce and a bag of wood chips made from the barrels in which the Tabasco mash is fermented. Since they use the barrels for about 20 years, the chips should bring some interesting flavors to the BBQ pit.
For meat, we brought back some boudin (which we’ve never tasted), andouille (I intended to get it from Bailey’s in LaPlace, a Katherine’s suggestion, but didn’t make it there), alligator sausage (same as what they served me at Rivershack Tavern – more about it on Day 5), and some green onion sausage (recommended by Katherine).
And for frozen items, it was these two little goodies – I have a recipe for gator bites I’d been wanting to try and had almost decided I’d have to use chicken, but I’m ready now.
An of course we brought back some whole (head on) shrimp - we got 5 lb each of medium, large, and extra large. From these, we ended up with just over 9# of shell-on tails of various sizes and 6# of heads and shells for stock. I loved the freshness of the shrimp, but would have fired the sorter from this business as we ended up with a bunch of salad sized shrimp, even in the extra large. Also, I didn’t think about it while I was standing there, but the girl weighing out the extra large ones was getting most of them out by the feelers and I ended up with a lot of extra heads without tails – I wouldn’t let them get them out that way again – live and learn. Maybe she got to keep all of the headless tails left at the end of the day and knew I wouldn’t be around to complain. Here’s the first 5#’s.
For the stock, I found a variety of recipes using various amounts of water for the amount of shrimp shells. Since most of them started with the heads and shells from 2# of whole shrimp, the first thing I needed to determine was the weight of those shells and heads. I cleaned 2# for dinner and it turned out to be just shy of 1# of heads and shells. After considering the many recipes I looked at, I decided on using 1 gallon of water for each 2# of heads and tails and since I ended up with 6# of mostly heads (I only peeled the first 2# batch), I used 3 gallons of water. My final recipe, which is close to one from Emeril, was:
2# heads and shells
1 gal water
½ cup chopped onion
¼ cup diced carrot
¼ cup diced celery
1 tbsp minced garlic
Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for one hour with a cracked lid on and the hood fan running. I let it cool until it wasn’t steaming when I took the lid off and passed it trough a colander. I then planned to use a fine mesh strainer but the colander seemed to get everything out. Of course I tripled the recipe for my 6# of heads and shells, so with 3 gallons of water, we should have more than enough for our uses – I’ll have do some serious Cajun and seafood cooking and clam chowder making to use it all. I froze eight quart bags and the rest in 1/4 cup molds for those times when only a little is needed. A while back, Mary at Deep South Dish posted a recipe for Shrimp Sauce Piquqnt and the first ingredient was shells and heads from 2# of shrimp to which I jokingly posted a comment that this may be a little hard for me to come by at the Greenback convenient store – but I believe I now have everything on hand to make the dish. After doing the shrimp, I decided I’d rather have the de-heading job than the de-shelling job as it’s much faster.
Here’s part of the finished product and it either looks like rich stock or muddy water. Having never made it, I hope it’s supposed to look like this – it tastes fine.
The leftover solids will go on the compost pile.
For the shrimp, I cleaned 2# for immediate cooking, provided some to friends and froze the rest by adding one pound of tails to a quart freezer bag, covering with water, squeezing out the air, and laying on a jelly roll pan to get nice flat packages. I think I feel some jambalaya and low country boil coming on.
Have a great day and thanks for stopping by.