Dorothy’s Shrimp With Blue Cheese Sauce

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.

Shrimp Étouffée

I was introduced to Creole cooking on my first visit to New Orleans many years ago.  I ate barbecue shrimp, jambalaya, gumbo and shrimp étouffée.  The only dish with which I was vaguely familiar was jambalaya, and that was because of the Hank Williams hit song, “On the Bayou.”  The food was so good that I bought a cookbook of Creole cuisine, La Bouche Creole,  by Leon E. Soniat, Jr. 

The title literally means “The Creole Mouth.”  It’s a fun book to read filled with Soniat’s accounts of how Mamere (his grandmother) and Mamete (his mother) prepared many of the recipes.  La Bouche Creole has been in print for over thirty years. You should get a copy if you want to enjoy authentic Creole cuisine.  Meanwhile, here is a modified version of one of my favorite recipes from Soniat’s collection, shrimp étouffée.

Étouffée means “smothered” so shrimp étouffée is shrimp smothered in a thick sauce.  It resembles shrimp creole like my mother used to make, but shrimp étouffée has a more complex flavor that I think you will find both intriguing and delicious. The secret is the beef broth and brown roux.  It takes longer to make shrimp étouffée than shrimp creole, but that roux creates a rich sauce that is heavenly.

Soniat calls for three pounds of shrimp, and that is what I used the first time I made the dish.   Shrimp are expensive, however, and I now use about two pounds, half medium and half large.


3 T butter

3 T vegetable oil

6 T all-purpose flour

2 cups chopped onions

1 cup chopped green bell pepper

1 cup chopped celery

4 or 5 cloves garlic

1 6 oz can tomato paste

3 cups beef broth

2 cups water

3 bay leaves

1 tsp. dried basil

1/2 tsp. dried thyme

1 tsp. chili powder

1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper

1/4 tsp. freshly ground black pepper

1 tsp. salt

2- 3 lbs. peeled shrimp

1 cup chopped shallots

2 T chopped parsley


First make a roux.  Heat three tablespoons each of butter and vegetable oil over low heat in a large pot or Dutch oven.  Add six tablespoons flour and use a wooden spoon to stir it frequently until the flour is medium brown, about the color of milk chocolate.  It will take about twenty minutes to do this right.

Pay close attention to the flour so it does not burn.  Prepare the vegetables while the roux is cooking.  Clean and chop the onion, bell pepper and celery into a quarter to half-inch dice.  Clean and mince the garlic.

When the roux is brown, add the vegetables followed by the tomato paste, beef broth and water.  Raise the heat and bring the pot to a boil, then reduce the heat.  While the vegetables simmer, add the bay leaves and stir in the basil, thyme, chili powder, cayenne pepper, black pepper and salt.  Clean and chop the shallots into a quarter-inch dice and finely chop the parsley.

Peel and devein the shrimp if necessary, or thaw frozen cooked shrimp and remove the tails.

After the vegetables have simmered about forty-five minutes, add the shallots and parsley.  Simmer for another ten minutes, then add the shrimp and bring the pot back to a simmer.  If you are using raw shrimp, allow the pot to simmer about seven or eight minutes, then turn off the heat.  With precooked shrimp, turn the heat off as soon as the pot begins to simmer.

Cover the pot and let it stand on the back of the stove for an hour or so to blend the flavors.  Reheat just to a simmer before serving.

Serve the étouffée over white rice with a green salad and crusty bread.

NOTES:  Soniat calls for raw shrimp, which you need to peel before cooking.  Not having any raw shrimp in the house one Sunday morning, I tried two packages of frozen cooked shrimp.  I thawed them, removed the tails, and added them to the pot as the final ingredient.  The dish was still delicious, so you can get by with cooked shrimp.

One cup of uncooked rice will produce about three cups of cooked rice, so if you start with one and one-half cups of uncooked rice, you will end up with six to eight servings to smother with shrimp étouffée.