By Larry Levine –

I got the inspiration for this recipe while reading a collection of Johnny Apple’s food writings in the book “Far Flung and Well Fed.” Johnny was one of the nation’s leading political reporters for the New York Times for several decades. He also was a wonderful gourmand, who traveled the world on a virtually unlimited expense account, and wrote about the foods and people he discovered. You can read my review of this book by clicking on Food Books on the home page of this magazine.

In one article Johnny wrote about the discovery of simple dishes prepared from simple ingredients throughout the southern part of the U.S.  He made reference to “portabello mushrooms and seafood in roux.” That’s all I needed to come up with this recipe.

8 large shrimp – shell on
2 ½ cups water
4 Tblsp extra virgin olive oil
2 ½ Tblsp all-purpose flour
¾ tsp Cajun spice mixture
Pinch of red pepper flakes
Fresh ground black pepper to taste
Scant pinch of salt
2 portabello mushrooms
2 tblsp extra virgin olive oil
1 tsp granulated garlic
Peel the shrimp and put the shells in a sauce pan with the water. Bring to a boil and reduce heat to a slow boil for 20 minutes. Discard the shells and save the broth.

Heat olive oil in a 13 inch wide frying pan. Slice the onion into rings and cut each ring into quarters. Add onion to the olive oil and toss to coat. Sauté onion over medium low heat, stirring occasionally for about 30 minutes. You want the onions soft but not brown. Stir in the flour one tablespoon at a time. Toss the onions with the flour after each tablespoon to coat all the onion. Let the onions continue to sauté to brown the flour and get rid of the floury taste – about 5 minutes.

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Clean the mushrooms, coat them in olive oil and sprinkle the garlic on the underside. Put the mushrooms cap side down on a shallow roasting pan lined with tin foil.

Add about ½ cup of the shrimp broth to the floured onions and stir to thicken. Keep adding broth ½ cup at a time and stirring to thicken each time until you have used 2 cups of the broth. Turn the heat down to low, stir in the Cajun spice, red pepper flakes, black pepper and salt. Cover and let simmer about 10 minutes.

At the same time, put the mushrooms in the oven for 10 minutes.

Add the shrimp to the roux. Turn the mushrooms over to cap side up and raise the oven to a low broil with the mushrooms about 6 inches from the heat source. After 5 minutes, turn the shrimp over and shut the heat in the oven. Check shrimp after about 3 minutes to make sure they are cooked through. If they are not ready, give them another minute.

To serve: put a mushroom cap side down in the center of a plate. Pour a little of the mushroom juice from the pan onto the mushroom. Put four shrimp on each mushroom and spoon ever a healthy portion of the roux.

Serves 2

(NOTE: A tradition roux is made with clarified butter and wheat flour. I use olive oil as a healthier alternative. I also don’t keep wheat flour in my pantry, so all-purpose flour does the trick.)

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