For the most part, Cajun food is perceived to be rural fare cooked in a black iron pot, and while that summation is partly correct, it misses the big picture. Cajun cooking is steeped in the tradition of sourcing the freshest ingredients available, of layering those ingredients into multi-tiered flavors and textural contrasts, and spicing the finished dish with the perfect combination of seasonings. That can be a rustic, one-pot Cajun recipe, or an elegant entrée like this one.
A crisp puff pastry shell provides a solid platform to launch this mélange of fresh Gulf shrimp in a creamy, sherry-infused mushroom sauce for an over-the-top presentation worthy of most any white tablecloth restaurant. It’s easy, and to make this Cajun recipe even easier, I am opening up a can of flavor.
For the most part, I don’t cook with canned soup as an ingredient (remember my étouffée rant). But in this Cajun recipe, it is essential for both texture and flavor. It was Gene Crisman, a Cajun cook and friend from Beaumont, TX, who suggested I experiment with canned Cream of Shrimp soup (Campbell’s brand). For years now, Gene and his wife Judette have been whipping up Cajun dishes with this secret ingredient, and their daughter Sarah is carrying on the tradition these days. It delivers a jolt of shrimp flavor in a velvety, cream-based sauce. I’ve been intrigued with finding the perfect recipe to use it and this is it. Thank you, Gene!
No doubt, briny jumbo shrimp from the waters of the Vermilion Bay are the star in this dish, but I love how the creamy flavors of seafood and mushrooms spiked with dry sherry elevate this center-of-the-plate recipe. And the ease of store-bought puff pastry shells makes this Cajun recipe a cinch. Pair this elegant dinner with candlelight and a bottle of your best bubbly, and you are guaranteed the praise of your guests.
- 2 (10-ounce) boxes Pepperidge Farm puff pastry shells (6-count each), thawed and refrigerated
- 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
- 1 cup diced yellow onion
- ¼ cup diced green bell pepper
- ¼ cup diced red bell pepper
- ½ cup diced celery
- 2 tablespoons chopped flat-leaf parsley
- 1 cup sliced button mushrooms
- 1 can (10.5 ounces) cream of shrimp soup, such as Campbell’s
- 1 cup whole milk
- 2 tablespoons medium-dry sherry
- 1 tablespoon ketchup
- ½ tablespoon Acadiana Table Cajun Seasoning Blend, see recipe here
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- Pinch of white pepper
- 3 cups (about 1.5 pounds) large (25/30 count) shrimp, peeled and deveined
- Preheat the oven to 350ºF. Unbox the frozen pastry shells and remove the center “top” of the shell. Following the package directions, place the shells on a baking sheet and bake until golden brown. Keep warm until serving.
- In a large skillet over medium-high heat, add the butter. Once sizzling hot, add the onions, bell peppers, celery, parsley, and mushrooms. Cook until the onions turn translucent, about 5 minutes.
- Add the soup to the vegetable mixture, and stir in the milk. Once it comes to a boil, lower the heat to a simmer and cook until it thickens, about 5 minutes.
- Add the sherry, ketchup, Cajun seasoning, salt, and a pinch of white pepper. Continue simmering until the mixture thickens to coat the back of a spoon, about 8 minutes.
- Add the shrimp and cook just until the shrimp turn red and are done, 3 to 5 minutes.
- For individual servings, plate two puff pastry shells and spoon over the shrimp/mushroom cream sauce; garnish with a sprig of parsley.
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