Camarones Enchilados Flacos (Skinny Shrimp Enchiladas)

I recently found out my husband had fallen in love with a dish. It was during our date night at one of our favorite restaurants back in Fairfield, CT where I watched him swoon over a steamy helping of camarones enchilados. Though my allergy to shellfish left me on the sidelines, in that moment, I vowed to recreate that moment by conjuring a rendition of that dish in my own kitchen.

I waited for the perfect time to strike – the night of a day that began at the wonderful DMV here in Miami. Despite my interpretation of the dish being slightly lighter than the decadent creamy version that stole his heart, the sounds he made and the smiles I received while he ate through his bowl was all I needed to confirm that I still had my man’s heart! 🙂

Culinary cultural influences: Spain, Cuba, Mexico, Louisiana

Camarones Enchilados Flacos
(Skinny Shrimp Enchiladas) 

(recipe serving size – 2-4, depending on number of shrimp used)

For the rice:

1 1/2 cups of white rice

2 1/4 cups chicken stock

6 oz of andouille sausage

4 oz manchego cheese, shredded

2 tb of butter, salted

1 tb chopped cilantro

1 tsp smoked paprika

1/2 tsp kosher salt

Combine white rice, chicken stock, 1 tb of butter, cilantro, paprika and salt and bring to a boil. Knock heat back, place lid on pot and simmer for 15-20 minutes until all liquid has been absorbed and rice is cooked through. Should rice feel “al dente,” do not panic. The rice will continue to cook when combined with the sauce.

Cook andouille sausage in 1 tb of butter in a separate skillet until heated through. Let cool and dice into small pieces.

Add sausage and cheese to rice once rice is cooked and set aside.

For the sauce:

28 oz whole peeled tomatoes, crushed by hand

8-16 jumbo shrimp, peeled and deveined (for 2-4 servings)

1 cup chicken stock

1/4 cup olive oil

2 tb butter

1 small sweet onion, diced (or 1/2 medium sweet onion)

1 poblano pepper, seeded and diced

2 small red chili peppers, seeded and diced

1 serrano pepper, diced (seeds in for heat)

1 small cubanelle pepper (or 1/2 large cubanelle pepper)

1 tb cilantro, chopped (plus extra for garnish)

1 tb parsley, chopped (plus extra for garnish)

5 cloves of garlic, chopped

1 tsp oregano

1 tsp kosher salt

1/2 tsp smoked paprika

Heat olive oil and butter in a saucepan over medium heat until butter begins to bubble in the oil. Add serrano and red chili peppers. Sauté for 2 minutes. Add onions, poblano, cubanelle pepper, oregano, paprika and salt. Sauté for 5 mins. Add garlic. Sauté for 2 minutes. Add tomatoes, crushing with hand before dropping into pan. Simmer for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Remove 2 cups of the sauce and mix the 2 cups into the rice. Keep warm.

Add 1 cup of chicken stock to the remaining sauce in the saucepan and raise heat to medium-high, bringing the sauce to a vibrant simmer. Add 1 tb of cilantro and parsley to sauce. Drop in shrimp, 8 at a time (or as many as you can without compromising even cooking times). Cook for 2-3 minutes on one side. Flip and cook for another 1-2 minutes. Shrimp will turn white and curl up once done.

Bringing it all together:

Spoon rice into individual bowls. Ladle some of the sauce from the saucepan onto the rice. Place 4 shrimp atop each bowl of rice and top with the extra chopped cilantro and parsley. Serve while hot and enjoy!

Creative liberties:

There is a lot of flexibility in this dish, from the kind and amount of cheese that can be used to the amount of shrimp.

  • For shrimp lovers, bump up the amount of shrimp per serving to 6 or 8.
  • An additional layer of flavor could be brought to the shrimp by searing shrimp first for 1-2 minutes on each side in a very hot skillet before tossing into the sauce. Season the shrimp with salt and paprika first if you decide to do this.
  • Add a touch of sour cream, Mexican crema or even marscarpone to the rice to bring that traditional creaminess to the dish.
  • For a skinnier rendition of the dish, omit the andouille sausage, substitute all uses of butter with olive oil, use brown rice instead of white and leave out the cheese.
  • For carb-conscious eaters, omit the rice entirely and serve over a bed of ribboned zucchini.

Recipes are great to have. What is important, especially if you are entertaining guests, is knowing who you are cooking for and making sure you do it all from the heart.

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