There are certain traditions that make the holidays special, and of course, in the Graham family, those traditions usually involve food – turkey and cornbread dressing for Thanksgiving and a regal crown roast of pork for Christmas Day. Oh, and of course, a Christmas Eve gumbo with friends and family after church services the night before. For us, these are the culinary traditions that holiday memories are made of.
But, there is another tasty tradition in our family that has been passed through the generations that is most special – my brother Jackie’s spicy Creole shrimp dip. To me, this simple recipe represents the holidays in South Louisiana, and is a sure way to spice up any gathering. We put it out at Thanksgiving and make even more as Christmas nears.
My older brother Jackie was the real cook in the Graham family and he perfected this recipe many holidays ago. For years, he and his wife Lavonia — an equally talented cook — hosted our Thanksgiving family reunion in my hometown of Bogalusa, Louisiana. They would begin cooking the amazing feast two weeks before the event. It was an all day and night eating affair, and the taste of his famous shrimp dip was reason enough for family members to make the trek from California, North Carolina, Florida and beyond.
The sauce in this dip is a zestier version of a spicy remoulade infused with horseradish, Creole mustard and hot sauce. As with any recipe, you can certainly adjust the ingredients to your taste, but I would urge you to follow this one to a tee the first time out. While this dip is guaranteed to clear up any sinus problem you might have, I can assure you it is addictive.
My brother Jackie is no longer with us, and these days our families celebrate the holidays in our own hometowns. But every year across the nation, there are Grahams – and new generations of Grahams — celebrating the holidays with a big bowl of Jackie’s Spicy Creole Shrimp Dip close at hand.
Thank you, brother.
- 4 large eggs
- 2 pounds small, raw peeled Louisiana shrimp
- 1 jar (16 oz) Creole mustard or coarse-grained mustard
- 1 jar (5.25 oz) prepared horseradish
- 1 cup canola oil
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- 1 cup finely diced yellow onion (fresh, not pre-cut frozen)
- 1 cup finely diced green bell pepper (fresh, not pre-cut frozen)
- 1 cup finely diced celery (fresh, not pre-cut frozen)
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
- Dash of hot sauce
- Ritz crackers, for serving
- In a large pot of cold water filled to the halfway point, add the eggs. Turn the burners to high and bring the water to a boil and immediately turn off the heat. Cover the pot and let sit for 12 minutes. Remove the hard-boiled eggs from the water (keep the water in the pot) and rinse under cold water. Peel the eggs and dice. Place the diced eggs in a bowl, cover and refrigerate.
- In the same pot of water over high heat, bring it to a boil. Add the raw shrimp. Bring the water back to a boil and cook for approximately 5 minutes. Remove one of the larger shrimp and test for doneness. If done, turn off the heat. Immediately remove the pot and strain the shrimp into a colander. Rinse with cold water to stop the carryover cooking and then dry the shrimp on a kitchen towel or paper towels. Put the shrimp in a bowl lined with paper towels and place in the refrigerator to cool. (UPDATE NOTE: Be sure to dry the shrimp on paper towels before adding to the mustard mixture to prevent excess liquid.)
- In a large mixing bowl, add the mustard, horseradish, canola oil, and lemon juice. Stir to combine. Add the diced vegetables and stir. Add the boiled eggs and stir to distribute evenly throughout the mixture. Add salt, pepper and hot sauce to your taste.
- Add the shrimp and stir to distribute evenly throughout the mixture. Cover and refrigerate until chilled (or overnight).
- For serving, fill a bowl with the dip and place on a tray surrounded by Ritz crackers.
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