Before the intense heat of this summer drives us all inside to eat nothing but cold sandwiches and ice cream, and before every last tomato has been incinerated by the sun, I want to share a special creation with you that we concocted at the beach: shrimp and okra stew with a secret. The secret is chipotle pepper. (Italics is the typist's whisper). Not that chipotle peppers in adobo sauce haven't been popularized in recent years--they're showing up in everything from hot wing sauce to salad dressing--but they're not indigenous to New Orleans cuisine. But they really put this shrimp and okra stew over the top, I tell you! Wowza!
This stew is really a main-dish version of a Louisiana summertime favorite, stewed okra and tomatoes. In that classic dish, fresh okra and bursting-ripe Creole tomatoes are cooked down together in a pot until ultra-soft and almost jam-sweet. Our shrimp stew directs okra and tomatoes to a more rib-sticking, protein-enriched herby bowl of goodness that is quite happy over a puddle of cheese grits, a scoop of rice, or just some good toasted bread.
shrimp and okra stew with a secret
- 2 slices thick bacon, roughly chopped
- 1 medium yellow onion, diced
- 1 green bell pepper, diced
- 2 stalks celery, sliced
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and minced
- 1 teaspoon fresh rosemary, chopped (or 1/2 t. dried)
- 1 teaspoon fresh oregano, chopped (or 1/2 t. dried)
- 1 chipotle pepper in adobo sauce (freeze remainder of can for later use)
- 1/2 cup chicken stock
- 1 cup diced tomatoes (canned is ok)
- a handful of fresh okra (about 8), diced (I dice them on the large side because they shrink a lot while cooking)
- 1 Tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
- 1 Tablespoon cocktail sauce (opt.)
- 1 pound shrimp, peeled and deveined (tails left on if your aesthetics lean that way)
- salt, pepper, and Tabasco to taste
- In a large skillet over medium-high heat, saute bacon until most of the fat is rendered out. Add onion, bell pepper, and celery and saute about 5 minutes, until getting soft. Add garlic and jalapeno and stir for one minute. Add herbs and chipotle pepper and stir around. Things should be quite dry.
- Deglaze pan by pouring in chicken stock and tomatoes, stirring up any browned bits. Bring to a simmer and stir in okra, Worcestershire, and cocktail sauce.
- Cover and simmer over low heat about 15 minutes, or until the okra is soft and tomatoes have broken down somewhat.
- Stir in shrimp, cover, and simmer 5 to 10 minutes, until shrimp are just done. Taste and season with salt, black pepper, and/or Tabasco, if you dare.
Makes 4 servings. Over cheese grits, it's the bomb.