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Fox Valley Cooks: Auroran shares recipe for shrimp creole

Lamont Petersserves up his Shrimp Creole for hot meal cold winter's day.  |  Judy Buchenot~For The Beacon-News

Lamont Peterson serves up his Shrimp Creole for a hot meal on a cold winter's day. | Judy Buchenot~For The Beacon-News

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Shrimp Creole

2 tablespoons olive oil

4 cloves garlic, minced

2 large onions, chopped

2 stalks celery, chopped

1 green pepper, chopped

1 teaspoon cayenne pepper

2 cups seafood stock

28-ounce can whole tomatoes in puree

Dash of Worcestershire sauce

Dash of hot sauce

2 bay leaves

Kosher salt and pepper to taste

2 pounds shrimp

4 tablespoons green onions, sliced

Cooked rice

Heat a large Dutch oven over medium heat and add olive oil. Cook garlic, onions, celery and green peppers until softened, about 5 minutes. Stir in cayenne and continue to cook until caramelized. Add stock, tomatoes, Worcestershire sauce, hot sauce and bay leaves. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Simmer mixture for 35 minutes. Add shrimp and cook about 4 minutes or until shrimp are bright pink. Serve over rice and garnish with sliced green onions.

Updated: November 29, 2012 3:32PM

Lamont Peterson grew up watching his relatives work their magic in the kitchen.

His mother was an excellent cook and his uncle was the head chef for Denver Zephyr.

Peterson’s interest in cooking continued to grow, and as an adult, he took classes at the Culinary Arts Institute in Chicago for two years in the mid-’70s. Although the 61-year-old Aurora resident has never cooked professionally, his interest in a well-prepared meal has never wavered.

Whenever he and his wife travel internationally, they seek out and try the unique local cuisine.

“If I have a meal that I really like, I ask to speak to the chef,” Peterson says. “When the chef comes out, I ask him what is in the dish, and he will usually tell me.”

When in Barcelona, Peterson found tapas to be a culinary delight, and he took notes from a chef on how to make the pork terrine. In Brazil, he was surprised to find out that fish he was eating in a seafood stew was familiar monkfish.

“It is amazing how much you can learn by asking,” he adds.

Peterson does all the cooking for the family, which includes his grandchildren at many meals. He believes in cooking in big batches so there are leftovers.

“I cook one day and have leftovers the next,” he explains.

His daughter used to help him cook for many years, but now his 7-year-old granddaughter is at his side, “doing everything but the slicing.” Since he is cooking for all ages, he often tones down his dishes a little.

One of the family favorites is his Shrimp Creole. Although it can be made with ready-make stock, Peterson makes his own seafood stock.

“I put the shells from the shrimp, about 15 to 20 of them, in a pot and cover them with water,” he says. “I add chopped up onions, green peppers, celery, kosher salt and cracked black pepper. I bring it all to a boil and then turn it down to simmer for about 45 minutes to an hour. Then I strain it and have great stock.”

An important step in making the Creole involves caramelizing the onion.

“You can’t let the onions burn. If the onions are burned, they will taste bitter,” he warns.

When he cooks the rice for the Creole, he adds a little olive oil to the cooking water to keep the rice from sticking.

Like many good cooks, Peterson views his collection of more than 10,000 recipes as a starting point for a dish. He shares the recipe for Shrimp Creole but notes that variations are possible. For example, he often adds a pound of smoked sausage to the mixture, which gives a rich, smoky flavor. He cooks the sausage in olive oil, cuts it into chunks and adds it at the very end. He also has added chicken, too.

“I add different things all of the time to make it a little different,” he explains.

He invites others to try his shrimp Creole and add a little something to make it their own.

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