This week’s meal will be hosted by my husband, Evan, who surprised me with a delicious Shrimp and Andouille Etouffee dinner on Valentine’s Day. It was, hands down, the best home cooked meal either of us have ever made. No joke. It was so good I could’ve cried. Enjoy!
This post will be directed primarily at the guys. And by “the guys,” ladies, I mean the ones you make read this. So fellas, I’ll give you a hint for one of the best, most romantic things you can do for your wife, girlfriend, significant other: Cook dinner. I know that some of you probably already do this, but, I’m guessing if your wife, girlfriend, lady-friend, etc. told you to read this, it’s because you don’t and she wants you to.
Now, first thing, don’t worry about jumping in over your head. If you feel like you’re more likely to burn the house down than cook something appealing, ask her to help you out / supervise. This doesn’t ruin the romance; if anything, it’s better. When she agrees, open a bottle of her favorite wine and have some glasses nearby to sip from while you work.
For Valentine’s Day, this year I decided to take my own advice and make dinner. Kirsten loves spicy food, which leads to a preference for Tex-Mex, Asian, and Cajun food (in no particular order). I particularly like making Cajun: It’s rarely complicated, it tastes great, and it’s usually very flexible.
When I got home, I looked up some recipes and decided on this Paula Deen’s recipe from Foodnetwork.com.
As I mentioned before, Cajun is usually very flexible. If you don’t like seafood, you can make it with sausage or chicken. This recipe also calls for onions, but Kirst doesn’t like ’em, so I dropped them and had more peppers and added a jalapeno instead. Also, I am not a clam fan, so the idea of clam juice scared me. But having looked through several recipes before deciding on this one, I saw many call for shrimp stock. This in mind, I looked up this recipe for shrimp stock and went with Emeril Legasse’s (probably a good source for Cajun recipes). With both recipes, I didn’t have nearly enough shrimp, but made do with what I had.
Since it was going to take the longest, I started with the shrimp stock first. It was pretty easy; just throw everything in the pot and let it boil, then lower the heat and simmer for 45 minutes to an hour.
While I was waiting on that, I chopped up my veggies. A couple notes on veggies; I don’t bother measuring with vegetables. Generally I can tell how much I want in the dish, and a little extra definitely won’t hurt. Also, when I see the word chopped, I think of veggies in stew; varying size chunks. As such, I’m really not worried about consistency or being overly fine. I like my chunks of peppers a bit on the larger side (potatoes too, though not here), so I cut them that way.
After the veggies, I chopped up the andouille and tossed it in a skillet to brown.
I also set up my rice to cook. I found some “ancient Chinese” instructions on cooking rice back when I first figured out how to do it, and I’ve stuck with that. My method, pour some rice in a pot, generally guessing how much you want. Then hover your finger (recently washed of course) just above the rice. Then fill with water until it reaches about your first knuckle. Bring the pot to a boil and stir occasionally while it heats until it boils. Then drop it to medium and let boil until the water level gets down to the top of the rice and you start seeing holes (it’ll make sense when you see it). At that point, drop the temp to low and cover and leave it alone for 20 minutes. That’s it.
Here’s where I made mistakes 2 and 3. Pro-tip: don’t worry about mistakes, it probably won’t ruin anything. And if it does end up ruining the dinner, you can still laugh about your miserable failure and then run out and get a pizza (so make sure you’re not hitting your wine glass too hard).
Anyway, mistake 2 was that about halfway through my 15-20 minutes of stirring my roux, I turned off the heat. I thought I was turning off the rice, but no, I realized after stirring for nigh on 25 minutes that the heat was off. Oh, well, no big deal. I moved on and then added my veggies (probably too early).
Mistake 3 was that I used a skillet. As I read down the recipe again, I realized I probably wouldn’t fit it all, and so, transitioned to a pot.