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Party Shrimp Creole
This is a great party dish. This makes about 2 gallons. You can substitute water for the stock, but you'll be sacrificing a little flavor. This is great right out the pot or made the day before a party. I have a simple smaller version here: shrimp creole
For the stock:
shrimp peelings (optional)
at least 1 quart chicken stock
1/2 to 1 cup light roux, depending on how thick you want the creole
For the creole:
2 tbs oil
3 large onions, diced
2 large cans whole peeled or crushed tomatoes
1 can Rotel (or more, to taste)
1 tall can tomato sauce
28oz jar marinara sauce (I use Pepperland Farms - use what you like)
cajun seasoning (no MSG Magic Swamp Dust is great in this)
1 - 2 tsp sugar (optional)
5 - 6 pounds cleaned deveined shrimp (medium size)
Season the shrimp and let them sit in the fridge until it's their turn in the pot.
Make the stock:
In a saucepan, cook the shrimp shells over medium heat until pink. Add the chicken stock and let simmer while your tomatoes cook. (Later, you will strain this stock into a large container, discarding the shells. You can combine the roux and the stock in this saucepan.)
Make the creole:
In a 8 quart or larger stockpot, saute the onions in oil over medium heat, until clarified. Add all of the tomatoes and sauce. To speed cooking, smash the tomatoes a little with a heavy spoon or a potato masher. Let simmer 20 - 30 minutes. "Simmer" is a bubble coming up here and there. Don't boil.
Strain the shrimp stock, discarding the shells. If you've omitted the shrimp shells, that's okay. Just heat the roux in a saucepan and whisk in the chicken stock or water, making sure there are no lumps.
Carefully add the roux & stock to the tomato mixture, mixing well. Taste for seasoning. This will thicken as it simmers. Some canned tomatoes can be a tad salty, so I add in a little sugar. Taste first to see if it needs it. Other spices I like to throw in to mix it up a little: ground coriander, Magic Swamp Dust, cracked black pepper, dried basil, hot sauce. Use what you like.
Here's another option: If you want a smooth sauce, use an immersion blender to blend everything before you put in the shrimp. If your jar of marinara had bay leaves in it, remove them before blending. If you want a chunky sauce, leave it like it is.
Add the seasoned shrimp and stir gently. Let simmer until shrimp are just cooked through and pink. Taste for seasoning one more time. It's ready to serve over rice or pasta. You can also take it off the heat and refrigerate it as a "day before" kind of dish. Just gently reheat it when you're ready to serve.