|[photo courtesy of Maryn from Le Cupcakerie]|
Now that the dead of winter is in full effect, I usually start to crave brighter and more "impact" foods. So usually now, about mid-end January I become obsessed with southern food, especially from Louisiana. I remembered these shrimp pockets I made last year for our Mardi Gras-themed Superbowl party when the New Orleans Saints went to the Superbowl. These were super easy to make, extremely flavorful, and were a hit at the party. My good friend Maryn took this fabulous picture of the pockets as they just came out of the oven.
The filling is warm and a little spicy from the cayenne, which of course can be toned down for milder pallets. The original recipe from Emeril Lagasse calls for crawfish, which I've done also and are great, but I also substitute often with easier-to-find-year-round sweet shrimp. If you can choose shrimp from Louisiana; they're a lot more tender and have a wonderful sweetness about them. I love these because they can be done even weeks in advance, then frozen in freezer bags, and just popped right into a hot oven on the day you want to serve them. I love serving them on a napkin, making it a transportable food people can eat with one hand and drink their cocktail from the other.
Crawfish Pies (aka "Shrimp Pockets") by Emeril Lagasse from Emeril's New Orleans Cooking
1 recipe basic pie dough (recipe follows)
2 Tbsp unsalted butter
1/4 cup minced onion
1/4 cup minced green bell pepper
1/4 cup minced red bell pepper
1/4 cup minced celery
1.5 Tbsp Emeril's Creole Seasoning (or other Creole seasoning blend)
1/2 tsp salt
1 Tbsp minced garlic
1 lb (about 2 cups) peeled crawfish tails OR peeled, deveiend and de-tailed shrimp cut into small pieces
1/2 tsp hot sauce
1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
1/4 cup shopped green onions
1/2 cup heavy cream
2 large eggs, lightly beaten in a separate cup
2 Tbsp bread crumbs
2 Tbsp olive oil
Prepare your basic pie dough. Cut the dough into 12 equal pieces, and roll each piece into a ball. Wrap each ball with plastic wrap and refrigerate.
To make the filling, melt the butter in a medium skillet over high heat. When the butter sizzles, add the onions, green and red bell pepper, celery, creole seasoning, and salt and saute, stirring occasionally for 3 minutes. Add the garlic and crawfish/shrimp and cook, stirring occasionally and shaking the skillet, for 2 minutes. Add the hot sauce, Worcestershire, and green onions and cook another 2 minutes. Whisk in the cream. Stir in 1 of the beaten eggs -- slowly -- just a little at a time (if you do it too fast you'll have scrambled eggs). Remove the mixture from the heat and mix in the breadcrumbs. Set aside.
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
Remove the dough from the fridge. On a floured surface, roll out each ball thin a thin circle of dough, about 1/8 inch thick. You do want to keep it roughly into an even circle shape if you can, but if it's slightly lopsided that's fine too.
Brush a 1/4 inch border around the edges fo the rolled out dough squares with the remaining beaten egg. Place about 1/4 cup of the crawfish/shrimp mixture in the middle of each dough circle, then take one side and wrap it up and over the filling, making a half-moon shape (see above). Use a fork to crimp the edges; this will not only seal your pockets but make it look decorative. You can also use your fingers but a fork will really press it together properly. Place the pockets on the baking sheet and brush the tops with the olive oil. Place in oven and bake until lightly golden brown, about 25 minutes.
To serve, wrap the pockets in a paper towel or napkin and serve with an ice cold beer or Hurricane!
Emeril's Basic Pie Dough
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp salt
2/3 cup (10 2/3 Tbsp) very cold, unsalted butter cut into cubes, OR lard OR shortening
4 1/2 Tbsp ice water.
Combine the flour and salt in a food processor with a fork. Add the butter cubes and pulse until the butter is the size of peas. With the processor on and feed tube open, add the water all at once and pulse until the dough comes together into a ball. Take out and form into a ball, wrap with plastic wrap very well and refrigerate until ready to use.
Conversely, you can combine all the ingredients into a bowl and use a pastry cutter to incorporate the butter in, then work the dough with your own hands until combined. Form into a ball, warp, and refrigerate until ready to use.