What you’ll usually find served as shrimp Creole is a handful of mealy shrimp drenched in a cayenne-infused tomato gravy loaded with bell peppers and ladled over a gummy pile of Minute rice.
This commercial abomination has become so prevalent that many people have begun to replicate this horror in the home kitchen, but if you follow procedure and proceed apace, a good shrimp Creole is not at all difficult to make.
Make a roux with a quarter cup each of flour and oil—not butter, not olive oil, just a light vegetable oil will do fine. People from the boonies use a very dark roux for a Creole, but I prefer one two shades lighter than a Budweiser bottle.
They can talk about me if they want to.
To this, while still hot, add two cups finely chopped white onion, one cup finely chopped celery and a half cup finely diced bell pepper. Do not over-do the bell pepper! I firmly concur with Justin Wilson who said time and time again that bell pepper is “a taste killah”, and we both agree that you can never use too much onion. (Within reason.)
For a basic shrimp Creole to feed six people, sauté two pounds peeled shrimp–I recommend a 26-30 count–in a light oil with plenty of garlic, about four cloves crushed and minced, and a little pepper (do not salt). Add the shrimp (with the liquid) to the roux/vegetable mix, then immediately add two 14 ounce cans of diced tomatoes with juice. (In a perfect world, you’d use four cups of home-canned tomatoes, but I do not live in a perfect world, and I’ll bet you don’t, either.)
Add a little water to this if needed to give it the consistency of a thick soup, season with a two tablespoons dried basil, two teaspoons thyme and a teaspoon each of oregano and ground cumin. Understand please that these are relative ratios that you can adjust with neither guilt nor effort. When it comes to pepper, the best rule of thumb is to add just enough to make a statement and provide a good Louisiana hot sauce on the table.
Let this stew for at least an hour (I put it in a low oven uncovered and stir it two or three times), then adjust your seasonings, particularly the salt and pepper. Serve over cooked long-grain rice; let me recommend Zatarain’s, and no, I’m not getting paid for that.