Friday, August 19, 2016

red bean & shrimp cajun tacos

Tacos. The possibilities are endless. Don't get me wrong, I could eat traditional tacos from my local taqueria weekly without ever getting sick of them. Okay I DO eat traditional tacos from my local taqueria weekly without ever getting sick of them. But it is fun to come up with newfangled ways to fill a tortilla. These Cajun tacos are a delightful amalgamation of South-of-the-Border and South-of-the-Mason-Dixon. I took inspiration from some Creole favorites... red beans & rice, and shrimp & grits. Instead of Pico de Gallo, I made a fresh salad out of the classic New Orleans Holy Trilogy, which is akin to the French Mirepoix, but with bell peppers instead of carrots.

Red Bean & Shrimp Cajun Tacos
-1/2 lb. raw peeled & deveined 41-50 ct. shrimp
-1 Tablespoon + 1 teaspoon Cajun seasoning
-2 garlic cloves, minced (divided)
-Juice of half a lemon
-1 slice thick-cut bacon, chopped
-2 shallots, shopped fine (divided)
-1 can kidney beans, rinsed and drained
-1/4 teaspoon paprika
-2 teaspoons vegetable oil
-6 Corn tortillas
-Trinity salad, for serving (recipe below)
-Hot sauce mayonnaise, for serving (recipe below)

Place the shrimp in a bowl with 1 Tablespoon of the Cajun seasoning, 1/2 the minced garlic and the lemon juice. Combine well and let sit while you prepare the rest of the meal.

Cook the bacon in a sauce pan until crisp. Remove the bacon to a paper towel, reserving the grease in the pan. Put 1/2 the chopped shallot and the other half of the minced garlic into the pot and cook until translucent. Add the rest of the Cajun seasoning and the paprika and cook 30 seconds. Add the beans and stir, cooking and mashing slightly with the spoon, over low heat for about 5 minutes. Stir in 2-3 Tablespoons of water to loosen the beans up and add the bacon back in. Keep warm.

In a small skillet, heat the vegetable oil and remaining shallots over medium heat until the shallots are translucent. Add the shrimp, including marinade, and cook, stirring often, until shrimp are just opaque.

Assemble tacos: Place 1/6 of bean mixture and shrimp on each tortilla. Top with desired amount of trinity salad and hot sauce mayo (recipes below).

Trinity Salad
-1 green bell pepper, finely diced
-1 red pepper, finely diced
-1/2 medium onion, finely diced
-1 celery stalk, finely diced
-3 Tablespoons cider vinegar
-1 Tablespoon olive oil
-1 teaspoon yellow mustard
-pinch of sugar
-salt and pepper to taste

In a small bowl, whisk together the vinegar, mustard, olive oil, sugar and salt and pepper. Place all the vegetables in a medium bowl, add the dressing and toss. Refrigerate until ready to use.

Hot Sauce Mayonnaise
-3 Tablespoons mayonnaise
-2 teaspoons hot sauce (or to taste)

Combine well, call it "aioli." :)

When I made these we hadn't heard much about the flooding that is happening in Southern Louisiana right now. It hasn't been in the news very much but it is a heartbreaking situation. The Fleur De Lis you see in my photos is a souvenir from NOLA... a spreader that has "Spread Compassion" stamped into the blade. Please consider donating to the Red Cross or some other organization that is aiding the people affected. From the Red Cross website: "People can help by making a financial donation by visiting, calling 1-800-RED CROSS or texting the word LAFLOODS to 90999 to make a $10 donation."

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