Sharon’s Louisiana Shrimp Bake

My mother loved to try new recipes. They were not all great successes, but they got eaten. Even Dad knew that he was expected to set a good example by eating “what is set before you” and we kids understood that if we didn’t eat the “taste” that Mom put on our plates we would see the stuff as a leftover until we got really tired of it.

I should make clear that I am speaking of the time before the second generation of Rang kids came along. I and my two younger sisters showed up in the 1940’s, but we were such handfuls that Mom and Dad were afraid to add any more troublemakers to the family until the mid 50’s. By the time that the three younger ones were born, Mom and Dad had mellowed into softies who even let those kids eat Twinkies.

I do remember a vacation in 1950, however, when my four-year-old sister Betty refused to eat anything except hot dogs. I figured that she would be put in her place before we got to Sioux Falls, South Dakota, but I was wrong.

So while we ate oatmeal or corn flakes or whatever Mom and Dad ordered for our breakfast, she had a hot dog with ketchup followed by more hot dogs for lunch and supper while we ate “what was set before us.” It was an impressive display of stubbornness that lasted more than a week.

But I digress. Here is a recipe new to Jerri and me, but I think that it is one Mom would have put together with enthusiasm. She liked casseroles, especially ones with exotic names. “Louisiana Shrimp Bake” would get her heading for the frozen foods case, and the cheese would give her the chance to expand Dad’s list of foods with cheese that he had at least tried.

He did not like cheese, but she had trained him to eat it if it was cooked into something. I think that she started him on pizza about 15 years after they were married and moved him on to macaroni and cheese after that. He never ordered cheeseburgers or beer cheese soup or pizza on his own, but he cleaned his plate of “what was set before him.”

We got this recipe from Sandy and Frank, some good church friends who used to live in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. Sandy told me she found it one day in a local newspaper. The UP is one of my favorite places because you can buy pasties just about anywhere up there. National Mine is a village about three miles south of Ishpeming, Michigan, famous as the city where the Green Bay Packers played (and won!) their very first road game. I don’t know if National Mine still has a cafe that sells pasties, but the village did have a cook who knew how to make good Upper Peninsula comfort food.

Here is Sharon’s recipe via Sandy who was kind enough to share.

INGREDIENTS:

1 cup white rice
2 cups water
2 tsp. salt (divided)
2 or 3 ribs of celery
1 medium onion (2 1/2 to 3 inches in diameter)
1/4 medium green pepper
1/4 cup butter or margarine
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 can diced tomatoes (1 1/2 to 2 cups)
1 package frozen shrimp (7 or 8 oz.)
1/4 cup sherry
1 1/2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
4 large eggs
3 cups cooked rice

PROCEDURE:

Rinse the rice and put it in a one quart saucepan. Add two cups of water and a half teaspoon of salt. Bring the rice to a boil, stir it and reduce the heat to low. Cover and simmer about 15 minutes or until all the water is absorbed. Remove the pan from the heat and set it aside.

While the rice is cooking, start preparing the casserole. Bring four large eggs to a boil in a sauce pan and cook them for five minutes. Turn off the heat and allow the eggs to continue cooking while you thaw the shrimp and remove the tails if necessary. Cool the eggs in cold water and remove the shells. Set the shrimp and eggs aside.

Clean and chop the celery into half inch slices. Peel and slice the onion medium thin. Wash and chop the green pepper into a quarter to half inch dice. You should have about a cup of celery and a half cup of green pepper.

Melt the butter or margarine over medium heat in a two or three quart saucepan and sauté the celery, onion and pepper for about five minutes. Stir in the flour and one and one-half teaspoons salt and cook until bubbly but not brown. You are making a roux. Stir in the tomatoes, shrimp and sherry, bring to a boil and simmer for about ten minutes over low heat, stirring often to keep the sauce from sticking.

Grate the cheese and slice the eggs. Stir the eggs and a half cup of the cheese into the sauce. Pour the mixture into a two quart casserole, cover it with the rice and sprinkle with the remaining cheese.

Bake for 25 or 30 minutes.

NOTES: Sharon says that you can assemble this casserole ahead of time, store it in the refrigerator, then bake it for 35 to 40 minutes before serving. She also specified cooking sherry, which is just sherry with salt dissolved in the wine. If you use regular sherry like we do, you may want to add an eighth teaspoon of extra salt.

Jerri and I like to add a few shakes of hot sauce to this casserole, but that makes it into something other than an authentic UP casserole.

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About Chuck Rang

Born in Ashland, Wisconsin, grew up near Hayward, lives in New Richmond, messing around in kitchens more than 60 years.
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