Back in January 2010, I started a Family Food History and Recipe Project. Eighteen very enjoyable months on, it is still ongoing, as I sift through old recipe files, folders and my own memories and those of other family members in order to compile a written food history of both sides of our family. As part of this, I was recently going through an old cookbook compiled by my husband and his sister when they were kids. A collection of their favourite dishes illustrated with their own drawings, it is a real treasure. I came across a recipe for the iconic Shrimp Newburg and as I had some shrimp in the freezer I felt inspired to try it, but on reflection I felt the actual recipe sounded a bit too rich for a weeknight dinner. I did have some sherry left over from making my Grandma’s Trifle on the weekend though and I thought I would use it as a starting point for a lighter version. This was the result. It got rave reviews from my very willing taste testers – one of whom is not actually all that keen on shrimp! By the way, don’t let the vinegar put you off, it mostly cooks off and leaves the most amazing flavour. This recipe will serve three to four people, and I hope you enjoy it as much as we did.
2 tbsp olive oil
1 red onion, finely chopped
1 red pepper, thinly sliced
4 tbsp sherry vinegar
2 tbsp flour
½ cup sherry
½ cup milk, single cream or half and half
2 tsp Dijon mustard
1 pound of cooked shrimp (thawed if frozen)
2 handfuls of asparagus, cut into thirds and lightly steamed for about 3 minutes
Cooked rice to serve
Gently sauté the onion in the oil over low heat for 5 to 10 minutes. Add the sliced red pepper and sauté five minutes more.
Turn the heat up a bit, add sherry vinegar and cook, stirring constantly, for two to three minutes until it has mostly cooked away. Lower the heat again, sprinkle the flour over the vinegar soused onions and stir to mix. Cook for a couple of minutes, stirring constantly.
Now add the sherry, a bit at a time, stirring after each addition. The mixture should thicken up after each addition. Then add the milk a bit at a time, also stirring after each addition. Add the mustard and stir through.
Add asparagus and shrimp and heat through. The sauce should be a nice consistency at this point, but if it is a little thick just add a tiny bit more milk. Serve over rice. I put a basket of hot crusty rolls on the table with this and they were the perfect accompaniment.