Where would food be without imagination, risk and people daring enough to fail? Where would the world be? Over two decades ago, Red Cactus-USA salsa ventured out on a minimal budget and a little faith to bring a family recipe out into the world. Now found in major grocery stores around the country, the sweet salsa’s success was not without hard times and learning from mistakes. Beyond life itself, food brings so much to the table. It is the centerpoint of conversation, it brings stories to light, and through mistakes and trials, creating a complex dish can be a reflection of life. At Red Cactus-USA, we encourage our customers to branch out in the world- be daring, create a dish, volunteer, help your neighbor and share. A diversity of interactions and experiences make you stronger, smarter, empathetic, and inventive, while having a ripple effect into the world. Take Creole cuisine for example.
Originating in the beautiful city of New Orleans, Creole cuisine takes shape from world-wide influences who have settled in the city. French colonialism has influenced the cuisine with additional contributions from Spanish, Portuguese, German, African and Native American settlers. Full of flavor and spices, Creole dishes rely on thick, flour-based roux, peppers, garlic and staples in traditional French mirepoix preparation. Known as the ‘holy trinity,’ a combination of onions celery and carrots (or in the case of Creole dishes) bell peppers create the base of many of the delightful dishes experienced in this style. Food reflects the stories from the land and the access to quality ingredients. For southern cuisine and Creole dishes, oysters, crawfish, crab, shrimp and various fish from the waterways and the Gulf of Mexico are commonly used. When preparing a dish from other parts of the world or country, it’s a fun experiment to use what is readily available in your own neck of the woods to make it distinctively yours. And many times, the best food comes from within the privacy of a home instead of a world-renowned restaurant. Don’t be shy to take Red Cactus-USA salsa and incorporate it into a dish that requires a level of spice and acidity that pairs wonderfully with a savory and sweet combination.
Let’s get down to it! And remember, based on your location, you can customize and influence this dish to add what works best for you and what is readily and locally available at your nearby market. Maybe it is even worth a drive down the road to meet your neighborhood farmer to buy products directly from the source and really make this and other dishes special while also directly giving back to your community.
Shrimp and Andouille Sausage Gumbo
- 4 tablespoons olive oil
- Salt and pepper
- 3 teaspoons fresh thyme, chopped fine
- 8 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 ½ cups onion, diced
- 1 ½ cups green bell pepper, diced
- ½ cup diced celery
- 1 pound medium shrimp, leave in the shell
- 4 tablespoons all-purpose flour, (or gluten-free flour)
- 1 tablespoon tomato paste
- 1 teaspoon paprika
- ¼ teaspoon cayenne
- 1 ½ cups of your favorite Red Cactus-USA salsa
- 6 ounces smoked andouille sausage, cut into 1 inch slices
- 3 cups shrimp broth
- 3 cups chicken broth
- 2 cups okra, chopped
- 1 tablespoon filé powder (from sassafras) In a pinch, you could substitute for cornstarch, but it is less than ideal
- ½ cup scallions, chopped for garnish
To start, you want to peel and devein shrimp. If you are creating your own shrimp broth, save the shells. Season the shrimp with salt and pepper, thyme and about 1 teaspoon of garlic. Cover in a bowl and stick in the fridge until ready to use.
In a heavy-bottomed pot or dutch oven, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the ‘holy trinity’ of onions, bell peppers and celery and stir frequently. You want it to be lightly brown, but avoid burning. Next, you will sprinkle in the flour of your choice while continuing to stir making sure the oil is soaked up and vegetables are well coated in flour. You want the vegetables and flour to be browned.
In goes the tomato paste, paprika, cayenne and the remaining amount of garlic. Stirring constantly, cook for about 1 minute and add the Red Cactus-USA salsa of your choice with andouille sausage. Continue to cook and stir for about 2-3 minutes. Add more salt and pepper.
Deglaze with shrimp and chicken broth and reduce the heat to a medium roll. Now comes an important part! With a wooden spoon, scrape all those delicious brown bits of goodness off the bottom of the pot. This will keep it from burning as well as dissolve those beautiful pieces of flavor back into the gumbo. Simmer for roughly 25- 30 minutes. You are looking for the base to thicken. Taste and adjust seasoning as needed.
The final step is to add okra and maybe even slip in some of the Red Cactus-USA banana peppers or jalapenos to give it an additional kick. Let them cook for about 5 minutes. The last part of this Creole masterpiece is to add shrimp and cook for a few minutes. Turn off the heat, add the filé powder (or cornstarch substitute).
Serve with cornbread, steamed rice and garnish with scallions.
Do you have a great recipe that includes a Red Cactus-USA product? Send the recipe over to our team for a chance to win a case of salsa and share your specialty meals with others! All of the products at Red Cactus-USA are gluten and trans-fat free and every one can be used in countless ways. Need an appetizer to serve hungry guests as they wait for your masterpiece, try a platter of snacks with our White Salsa Con Queso or our Sweet-N-Zesty Salsa Con Queso in the middle for dipping. Need more ideas for your next dinner? Check out our recipe page which shares some of our favorite plates we have made or that our fans have shared with us over the years. Food is about creation and sharing which is why we encourage our customers to send and share your recipes with us!