For over fifty years Jerri and I enjoyed a wonderful friendship with Pete and Dorothy Lund whom we met in Murray, Kentucky where Pete and I were teaching English. Pete died of Parkinson’s disease six years ago, but we maintained our friendship with Dorothy. Jerri died last summer, and I have kept in touch with Dorothy. One day when I was visiting, she asked, “Do you like shrimp?” My answer was “Yes!” Then she asked, “Do you like blue cheese?” and I said, “Of course!”
“Okay,” said Dorothy, “I’ll make something that Pete just loved,”
And so I was introduced to Shrimp with Blue Cheese Sauce.
This recipe is one of the simplest that you will ever follow. If you have readied the shrimp ahead of time, you will be serving hungry diners almost before they have finished their salad. Allowing 25 minutes to rinse and cook the rice, you will be sitting down to enjoy your dinner in 26 minutes. The extra minute is time allowed to raise a toast with your guests.
1 lb. medium shrimp (raw or cooked)
3 T butter
4 T all-purpose flour
Scant 1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. white pepper
2 cups milk
Blue cheese to taste (start with 4 or 5 ounces)
1 cup uncooked white rice
Start by preparing the shrimp. In Wisconsin, where I live, one buys frozen shrimp at a supermarket. Since the blue cheese provides the dominant flavor in this dish, I can’t tell whether the shrimp was raw or cooked. Try both to discover if you have a preference.
First, thaw the shrimp in the refrigerator for a few hours or thaw them in an hour or so in cold water. Raw shrimp need to be peeled and may need to be deveined. If you see a black line running down the shrimp tail, you need to remove it with a small knife. I use raw shrimp for shrimp scampi and buy large shrimp tails that have been split down the back and have the vein removed. You can find detailed instructions on the Internet.
Cooked tails are simplicity itself. Once they are thawed, you may still have to pull the hard tips off the tails. Sometimes these remnants of the shrimp exoskeleton slip completely off, sometimes they break off at the tip, but it doesn’t matter. You just don’t want to make a guest think that you have lost a fake fingernail in the sauce.
Once the shrimp are peeled and deveined, you are ready to cook Shrimp With Blue Cheese Sauce. Begin by rinsing the rice and putting it along with three-fourths teaspoon of salt into a medium saucepan. Stir in the rice after the water boils, cover the pan and turn the heat down to simmer. Stir the rice two or three times until the water is absorbed.
Now is a good time to open the package of cheese crumbles or to make a small dice from your block of blue cheese. This is also a good time to measure the milk and warm it to warm room temperature in the microwave.
After the rice has cooked ten minutes or so, melt the butter in a twelve-inch skillet over medium heat. Add the flour, salt and pepper to the skillet. Stir the flour mixture with a wooden spoon while it bubbles for three minutes or so. Keep the heat very low, so you do not brown the flour.
Add the milk to the flour mixture (called a roux, incidentally) and continue stirring until the sauce thickens. If it seems too thick, you can add a little more milk. Stir in the cheese and taste the sauce. If necessary, add more cheese or even a tittle more milk if the sauce seems too thick.
Add the shrimp. If you use raw shrimp, simmer them in the bubbling sauce for three to four minutes. The exact time will depend on the size of the shrimp. If you are nervous about raw shrimp, just stab one with a fork and rinse it under the faucet. If the shrimp is pink it is done. Don’t cook shrimp too long. If you are using cooked shrimp, just stir them in until the sauce bubbles again.
Serve over white rice with a white semi-dry wine. I have enjoyed it with a Riesling or Sauvignon Blanc. An ordinary garden salad and good bread will create a great light dinner.
NOTES: Blue cheese is quite salty so be careful not to add too much salt to the the sauce; my idea of a scant quarter teaspoon is a little more than an eighth. I have never tried it, but you could substitute brown rice for white. Just remember that brown rice takes considerably longer to cook.