shrimp

grilled shrimp tacos

I think that it’s officially safe to the warm weather is here to stay!

grilled shrimp tacos with cilantro pesto and jalapeno crema | Brooklyn Homemaker

This spring has been all over the place when it comes to the weather. One day it’s sunny & gorgeous, and the next day it’s grey & freezing. It’s a very hard life we lead here in Brooklyn.

grilled shrimp tacos with cilantro pesto and jalapeno crema | Brooklyn Homemaker

I actually made these tacos two or three weeks ago, but the very next day the weather took a turn and I felt weird posting them when it was so chilly outside.
The day I made them was absolutely gorgeous though, and Russell and I had the day to ourselves to wander Brooklyn and frolic in the sunshine.

grilled shrimp tacos with cilantro pesto and jalapeno crema | Brooklyn Homemaker

So frolic we did.

grilled shrimp tacos with cilantro pesto and jalapeno crema | Brooklyn Homemaker

We walked into Williamsburg and found a cute little place to have brunch, and afterward we went to a local nursery and got some new plants for the yard. It was still pretty early in the season so they didn’t have a huge selection, and our yard has the perfect combination of total shade, no hose hook-up, and super dry crappy soil; so we have to be careful about what we plant. About 60% of what I experiment with back there doesn’t make it through the first year, but we’re hoping the pachysandra we picked up will be hardy enough to survive our humble little wasteland.
So… fingers crossed!
After that we stopped by an old family fish market to get some shrimp to grill for dinner.

grilled shrimp tacos with cilantro pesto and jalapeno crema | Brooklyn Homemaker

When Russell makes fish tacos he usually makes a quick sauce with plain greek yogurt and sriracha, but this time I wanted to try something fun and a little different. I made a quick cilantro pesto to marinate the shrimp, and then made a jalapeño crema to add some creamy zip.

Both these sauces are super simple and easy to make if you have a food processor, so don’t be intimidated that you have to make two sauces. I also recommend skewering the shrimp to make them easier to flip on the grill and make sure they don’t fall through into the fire, but if you don’t have skewers it’s not impossible to grill the shrimp without them.

grilled shrimp tacos with cilantro pesto and jalapeno crema | Brooklyn Homemaker

My playing around really paid off. The shrimp came out tender, smoky, herby, tangy and perfect. Grilling them over a charcoal fire rather than gas definitely adds a lot of extra smokiness, but if you have a gas grill you can add a smoke box with wood chips to replicate the same flavor.

The bright fresh red cabbage adds a really nice crunch, and the jalapeño crema adds a welcome creaminess with a hint of spice. Mine actually wasn’t very spicy at all, but that will depend on your jalapeños. A nice squeeze of bright fresh lime juice and you’re in shrimp taco heaven!

grilled shrimp tacos with cilantro pesto and jalapeno crema | Brooklyn Homemaker

grilled shrimp tacos with cilantro pesto

3 cloves garlic
2 cups fresh cilantro, lightly packed
1/4 cup olive oil
2 tablespoons lime juice
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 lb jumbo shrimp, peeled and deveined, tails removed
1/2 cup sour cream or Mexican crema
1/2 teaspoon lime juice
2 seeded jalapeños
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup shredded red cabbage
corn tortillas
1 lime cut into wedges

To make the cilantro pesto combine garlic, cilantro, olive oil, lime juice, salt, & pepper in a food processor and process until completely smooth. Transfer to a large bowl with shrimp and toss to combine. Cover and refrigerate for at least an hour or two, or overnight.
Clean the food processor and make the crema. Combine the sour cream or crema, lime juice, salt, and jalapeño and process until completely smooth.

I recommend using skewers to make the shrimp easier to flip and keep them from falling into the grill. If using wooden skewers make sure to soak them in water for an hour before use so they don’t burn up.

Add 5 or 6 shrimp to each skewer and try to leave as much of the pesto on them as possible. Grill the shrimp over a medium to high flame until just cooked through, flipping once. This should only take 3 or 4 minutes per side but that will depend on the heat in your grill. Warm your tortillas over the grill too, just until soft and warm, about a minute per side.

Assemble the tacos with two to three shrimp each, a sprinkle of shredded cabbage, a drizzle of crema, and a squeeze of fresh lime.

creole red jambalaya with chicken, shrimp, & andouille

Last Saturday when I got home from work I started making dinner.

creole red jambalaya with chicken, shrimp, & andouille | Brooklyn Homemaker

I cut up some broccoli, crisped up some bacon, made a béchamel, boiled some noodles, and grated a heaping pile of aged Irish cheddar. After mixing all the ingredients for my homemade macaroni & cheese together I turned the oven on to preheat while I melted a little butter for my bread crumb topping.

With the weighty casserole ready to go into the oven to bubble and crisp, I reached down to open the oven door. That’s when I noticed it wasn’t hot.
Panic.

creole red jambalaya with chicken, shrimp, & andouille | Brooklyn Homemaker

Though you wouldn’t know if from the number of baked goods I turn out of my kitchen, I have been having trouble with my oven for over a year. I won’t get into all the specifics, but it basically starts to preheat but will turn off before coming to temperature. After months of dealing with it I finally figured out that if I switched on the range it would trick the oven to turning back on and I’d be in business.
That is, until the night that I had a big dish of macaroni and cheese waiting to bake. No amount of trickery or tinkering could induce my ancient apartment oven to turn on.

A broken oven. My worst nightmare.
I wanted to cry.

creole red jambalaya with chicken, shrimp, & andouille | Brooklyn Homemaker

I wrapped the macaroni and cheese up and put it into the refrigerator, crossing my fingers that it would miraculously work again the next day. Nope.

Of course my landlord is dragging feet his feet about getting it fixed too. Doesn’t he know who I am?

creole red jambalaya with chicken, shrimp, & andouille | Brooklyn Homemaker

A few days later we finally got a repair man in to take a look. After less than five minutes of tinkering he blithely says, “Oh it’s just a blown fuse.”
I had just enough time to breath a sigh of relief before he continued, “Of course I don’t have one with me, and it’s out of stock. We’ll have to order it. We’ll call you in a few days.”
Way to toy with my fragile emotions Mr. Evil Repair Man. After he left I microwaved a bowl of never-baked macaroni and cheese and cried into it.

Another day passed before I heard back from them, and just my luck, this tiny stupid fuse is backordered from the manufacturer and they don’t know when it’ll be back in stock. What are the chances?
When it’s my oven we’re talking about? 100%.

creole red jambalaya with chicken, shrimp, & andouille | Brooklyn Homemaker

I could use this as an opportunity to make no-bake recipes and experiment with any number of savory stove top recipes. But, of course in the absence of my oven, all I want to do is bake. I even want to bake things I would normally do on the stove top! I’m suddenly overwhelmed by cravings for baked eggs, roasted chicken, twice baked potatoes, roasted cauliflower. My urge to bake cookies, usually strong enough already, is suddenly all consuming. I’m overcome with worry that I won’t be able to participate in this month’s #bundtbakers, which is fast approaching.

Wallowing rather than overcoming, I can’t think of a single thing that I could share here that wouldn’t require a functional oven. Forget the fact that at least half or more of the recipes I’ve posted up until now haven’t.

creole red jambalaya with chicken, shrimp, & andouille | Brooklyn Homemaker

Then, one morning I wake up and suddenly I NEED to make jambalaya. I consult my favorite recipe to make a few tweaks. I consult other recipes to see what else could be improved on. Oddly enough, I discover a few recipes that call for the jambalaya to be assembled on the stovetop and finished in the oven! WHAT?!?! WHY!?!!?! Okay, forget that. Back to the original stovetop recipe I was looking at.

creole red jambalaya with chicken, shrimp, & andouille | Brooklyn Homemaker

My recipe hunt turned up so many different variations on jambalaya that I decided to turn to Wikipedia for some clarification. As it turns out, there are actually three distinct varieties of jambalaya, depending on the regions they come from and the ingredients used.

The style I made is called a red Creole jambalaya, or a city Creole jambalaya. This is the most common style, and the main difference between this and other varieties is the use of tomatoes. The less common rural Creole jambalaya is almost identical but uses no tomatoes in the recipe. The third, and even less common variety is the Cajun or “white” jambalaya, in which the rice is cooked in broth separately from the meat and vegetables and combined just before serving.

Most people believe Creole red jambalaya was created as a way to make Spanish Paella without using saffron which was very hard to come by at the time. Tomatoes were added in place of the saffron for flavor, but eventually the other two styles came about without the tomatoes.

creole red jambalaya with chicken, shrimp, & andouille | Brooklyn Homemaker

The house smells completely heavenly while this bubbles away on the stovetop (and not in the oven), and the flavor could not be more amazing. Tender rice, perfectly cooked shrimp, soft cooked vegetables, and andouille with a nice bit of bite. The fresh herbs, crushed tomatoes, and spices combine to make one of the most flavorful dishes I’ve had in a good long time. Using smoked paprika really makes a difference to impart a nice smoky depth to the dish and the cayenne adds a welcome bit of heat.

Depending on how spicy you like things, the heat level can definitely be adjusted to your taste. I like mine quite spicy so I used the full teaspoon of cayenne. One teaspoon might not sound like much, but a little goes a long way and gave this big pot of jambalaya some serious heat. Feel free to scale it back to 1/2 or even 1/4 teaspoon if you can’t take the heat, but I beg you not to skip it altogether or you’re not doing it right!

creole red jambalaya with chicken, shrimp, & andouille | Brooklyn Homemaker

Creole Red Jambalaya with Chicken, Shrimp, & Andouille

  • Servings: about 8 to 10
  • Print
adapted from Spoon Fork Bacon for the Fix

1 tablespoon olive oil (or bacon grease, if you have it, will add a bit of welcome smokiness)
12 to 16 oz. Andouille sausage, thinly sliced
1 lb boneless skinless chicken thighs, cut into small bite sized cubes
1 medium yellow onion, diced
1 red bell pepper, seeded and diced
1 green bell pepper, seeded and diced
2 to 3 ribs of celery, diced (about 1/2 cup)
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 1/2 cups of corn kernels (fresh is best but frozen is fine)
2 cups long grain rice
2 tablespoons parsley, finely chopped
1 tablespoon thyme, minced
2 1/2 teaspoons smoked paprika
1/4 to 1 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper (to your taste)
2 teaspoons cumin
1 (15 oz) can, crushed tomatoes
3 cups chicken stock
1 lb. shrimp, cleaned peeled and deveined

garnish:
fresh thyme, parsley, or green onion

Preheat 1 tablespoon of oil or grease in a heavy stockpot or dutch oven over medium-high heat. Brown andouille for about 5 minutes, remove from oven, leaving grease, and set aside.
Add chicken thighs, season with salt and pepper, and cook about 5 minutes. They don’t need to be cooked through, just have a bit of color on them. Remove and set aside with sausage
Add onions, bell peppers, and celery and sauté for 4 to 5 minutes or until onions barely begin to look translucent.  Season with salt and pepper. Stir in garlic and corn and continue to sauté for 2 minutes more.
Add rice, herbs and spices and sauté for 4 to 5 minutes. Season well with salt and pepper.
Stir in crushed tomatoes, stock, chicken thighs, and sausage. Bring mixture to a boil, then reduce the heat to simmer and cover. Cook for about 15 to 20 minutes or until cooked about 2/3 of the way, then add shrimp by gently pressing shrimp slightly into the mixture. DO NOT STIR while rice is cooking.
Cover again and continue to simmer for 7 to 10 minutes or until rice is cooked through and the liquid has evaporated.
Gently toss jambalaya together to incorporate shrimp and fluff the rice. Top with chopped parsley or sliced green onion, and serve.