Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Paladar CM: Camarones Enchilados

Whenever we had company growing up, I always remember having my mom's signature dish: Camarones enchilados. This was the Cuban equivalent of Boeuf Bourguignon (Julie and Julia lovers, you know what I'm talking about!). Always a crowd pleaser, always delicious, my mom knew she would get good reviews with this savory shrimp creole and the complementary plates of sweet plantains, a crisp green salad and plenty of mariquitas (fried green plantain chips).

On camarones enchilado days, I remember a frenzy of shrimp peels flying, parsley and pimentos being whirled together in the blender, the bustle of last minute cleaning, dusting, jamming stuff in closets (at least in the room I shared with my sister) and, best of all, sneaking bites of shrimp from the slow simmering pot on the stove.

Last week we had a lot to celebrate, friends coming home from across the pond, summer in its full glory and a clean apartment! It was camarones enchilado time. Believe it or not this slow simmered recipe and thick sauce come together in a little over an hour and a half. Serve with long grain white rice, maduros (sweet plantains), mariquitas (fried green plantains), and a fresh green salad and you are good to go.
Here is the recipe translated from my bootleg copy of Nitza Villapol's classic Cocina Criolla*
2 lbs of shrimp (peeled and deveined, I also take off the tail. It gets in the way of the eating.)
1/2 cup oil
1 onion
3 garlic cloves (these are called teeth, dientes in Spanish)
1 large green pepper
1/2 cup parsley (one little bunch (this is a direct translation, honest))
1 can of tomato sauce (I assume this to be 8 oz.)
1 can of pimentos (not spicy and not fire roasted)
1/2 cup of tomato ketchup (this is the secret to this dish, trust me!)
1/2 cup dry white cooking wine
1 teaspoon of vinager
1 bay leaf
1 1/2 teaspoons of salt
1 teaspoon of ground pepper
1 teaspoon of worcester sauce (the cookbook calls this English sauce)
1 teaspoon of hot sauce
Equipment: 1 large stockpot, food processor.
Peel and devein the shrimp, remove tails if desired. Fry them in hot oil; when they are pink add the minced onion, garlic and chopped green pepper (I reccomend the food processor for this) and let it all simmer for a little while together. Add the well chopped parsley, the chopped pimentos with the water that is in the can (again I recommend the food processor), the tomato sauce, the ketchup, bay leaf, cooking wine, salt, pepper, worcester sauce, and the hot sauce. Let this simmer over a low flame for 25 to 30 minutes. Gives 6 portions.

I almost always double the recipe from the get-go, but then again, my mom usually fed a small army at every meal so it may just be force of habit. It really is a crowd-pleaser and you can count on at least a few people, if not all your guests, having seconds.

Clean shrimp

Sofrito (onions, peppers, garlic)

Pimentos and parsley

The rest of the ingredients (bay leaf not pictured)

*I say bootleg because I'm pretty sure that the copy I have is a direct rip on hers, minus the name of the author. After being the Cuban Julia Child for years, she pledged allegiance to the revolution, thereby meriting erasure from her own book. Ah, the tangled web of Cuban exile politics! But don't quote me on this as it's just a theory. If anyone has more info, please let me know.


crazylady said...

Love this recipe! It was so delicious! You were a wonderful host!!!

Cristina said...

Mmm Carmen I am finally reading your blog and everything looks so delicious! This dish I can actually vouch for though- was that the night we were all over? So good!!! Please repeat soon :)