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The Family Meal: Shrimp Creole

The value of eating dinner together as a family cannot be measured.

Between jobs, school, sports and everything else that consumes our lives, it sometimes can be hard to connect on a daily basis. Yet, it’s so important because not only do family meals encourage better communication and improve a child’s self-esteem, the entire family benefits from eating more fruits and vegetables, rather than grabbing a quick burger and fries from the drive-thru.

To encourage the sense of togetherness that family meals bring, Nola Family will feature a local chef and his or her family in each issue, and include the recipe for their favorite dish for you to cook and eat together. Hopefully, you will enjoy making these meals for your family, too! Bon Appétit!


Chef Eric Cook and family

Eric Cook never forgets his roots. The executive chef with Creole Cuisine Restaurant Concepts served six years in the United States Marine Corps before training with the John Folse Culinary Institute. He then put his skills and background to good use as an advocate for both the military and the city by staying in New Orleans during Hurricane Katrina, and helping to feed the troops and first responders.

 But cooking is what drives him. Cook began his career at Brennan’s Restaurant, then joined the team at Commander’s Palace as sous chef and chef de partie. He later served as executive chef at The American Sector at the National WWII Museum, before taking the helm at Dickie Brennan’s Bourbon House. That gig led him to Creole Cuisine, the local restaurant group that includes Broussard’s, The Bombay Club, Tommy’s Cuisine and New Orleans Social House.

 Cook lives in Algiers Point with his wife, Robyn, and 16-year-old stepdaughter, Liz. He comes from a big family, and cooking is a big part of holidays and family vacations. Born and raised in New Orleans, Cook enjoys Southern home-cooking and uses the wonderful ingredients New Orleanians have come to know and love. On his menus, he includes recipes handed down from his grandmother and dishes that people in the city might enjoy in their own homes.

Bowl of shrimp creole
Shrimp Creole 
Serves 6
Cooking time: 1 hour
3 lbs. medium shrimp
1 ½ cups chopped celery
1 ½ cups chopped onions
1 ½ cups chopped bell pepper
1 lemon slice
2 cloves garlic
2 bay leaves
1 teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon black pepper
6-8 cups water
3/4 cup vegetable oil
3/4 cup flour
2 cups tomato sauce
1 cup diced tomato
1 cup chopped green onions
1/2 cup chopped parsley
1 cup white rice, cooked
Hot sauce
First, make a stock by peeling the shrimp, and place the shells and tails in a large pot, setting the shrimp aside. Add a 1/2 cup of the celery, a 1/2 cup of the onions, a 1/2 cup of the bell peppers, lemon slice, garlic, bay leaves, salt, pepper and 6-8 cups of water to cover. Bring to a rolling a boil, then reduce the heat to a low simmer. Simmer for about 45 minutes, skimming off any scum, or foam, that rises to the surface. Strain the shells mixture.
In a 2-gallon, heavy-bottomed saucepan or Dutch oven, heat vegetable oil over medium-high heat. Whisk in flour, stirring constantly until a light brown roux is achieved. Add remaining celery, onions and bell peppers, then sauté for 3-5 minutes. Add the tomato sauce and diced tomatoes. Then, slowly add the stock, stirring constantly. Cover and cook for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Finally, add the shrimp, green onions and parsley. Cook uncovered for 5 more minutes.
Serve shrimp and sauce over rice with a dash of hot sauce.
For more Family Meals, please visit our Eating section.

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