July Shrimp Étouffée

July is about fresh food. In Wisconsin, the first ears of local corn tend to find their way to the markets, CSA boxes, and - of course - tables. Peppers are plump and delicious and even garlic and onion seem ... better. Add to that the right level of heat and tender shrimp and a Cajun favorite gets a summer makeover.

Étouffée is a Cajun stew featuring shrimp, tomatoes, and peppers. This version embraces July's favorite vegetable: corn. Not only is it delightfully in season, the sweetness of the corn transforms this creamy, spicy meal into a complex bowl of comfort food that adds sweetness and texture to the mix.

There are many items that play nicely with this dish in terms of flavor, but I like to serve it in bowls, so I try to keep what goes with it pretty portable so I don't have extra dishes or mess to deal with. Slices of watermelon, corn muffins or bread sticks (a must, in my opinion), and tall glasses of iced tea and lemonade are all simple enough and will leave you the option of going back for seconds.

In fact, my family loves this one so much that it has become a summer tradition. Put together a bowl and find a bit of shade in the yard to enjoy it. If you happen to have extra rice or even a tender corn muffin, you'll want to make sure you have that on hand to soak up all the amazing sauce in this dish.

July Shrimp Étouffée

  • 8 tablespoons butter
  • 1 orange bell pepper, chopped
  • 4 corn ears, kernels removed, or 3 cups of frozen kernels (thawed)
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 cup dry white wine
  • 1 (14.5 oz) can diced fire-roasted tomatoes, with juices
  • 2 tablespoons Cajun seasoning
  • A few dashes of hot sauce, optional
  • 4 cups seafood stock
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch mixed with a bit of cold water
  • 2 pounds medium shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • Rice, for serving
  • ½ cup chopped green onions, for garnish

Melt the butter over medium-low heat in a large skillet. Sauté the chopped pepper, corn kernels, and minced garlic until softened and fragrant, about 8 minutes. Add the wine and deglaze the pan over medium-high heat.

Add the fire-roasted tomatoes, Cajun seasoning, hot sauce, and seafood stock (it's perfect, but chicken stock can be substituted). Cook, stirring frequently, until the mixture gets bubbly - about 8 minutes.

Add the cornstarch and water slurry and stir constantly until the liquid is thickened. Turn the heat to medium-low, add the shrimp, stir to coat the shrimp, and put a lid over the skillet. Simmer for 5 minutes to fully cook the shrimp.

Serve over rice and sprinkled with green onions.

  • Yields: 4-6 servings
  • Preparation Time: 30 minutes

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