A couple of weeks ago, I arrived in Mexico City to visit family and was immediately put to work helping my aunt make camarones al chipotle for lunch. I practically exited the cab and went straight to the kitchen, my rolling suitcase still trailing behind me, to melt butter and sauté the onions and garlic. I could have excused myself but I was at least partly there to discover new recipes so there was no reason to wait. In an hour or so we were out on the terrace over-looking the northwestern hills of the city having zucchini blossom soup with fresh cheese and avocado, tinga de pollo, black beans, warm corn tortillas and plump shrimp drenched in a creamy chipotle sauce to finish – hot from the chiles but soothing at the same time.
Crowded airports, jet lag and altitude changes forgotten, I felt restored not just by the food but by my time at the stove. Back in New York, I recreated the recipe on my own, happy to be home but missing the easygoing chaos of a crowded kitchen.
Camarones al Chipotle
2 lbs. medium shrimp, shelled and deveined
1 large white onion, chopped
3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 cups white mushrooms, sliced
2 ripe tomatoes, chopped (about 2 cups)
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup Mexican crema or crème fraîche
1-2 tablespoons canned chipotle chiles in adobo sauce
Salt and pepper to taste
Shrimp broth (optional)*
- Using a food processor or blender, combine cream and chiles, adding chipotles a little at a time to taste, and pulse until smooth. Set aside.
- Melt butter in a large heavy skillet over medium heat. Sauté the green onion, garlic, and salt until soft, about 5 minutes. Add the sliced mushrooms and cook covered, about 3 minutes. Add the tomatoes and bring to a simmer. Reduce heat and cook, an additional 5 minutes. Add shrimp and simmer, covered until they begin to turn pink, about 2-3 minutes. Add broth if additional liquid is needed. Add the chipotle cream and heat until cooked through, an additional 3-5 minutes. Season to taste.
- Serve with warm corn tortillas, over rice, or with avocado.
Notes: To make broth, combine reserved shells with 2 cups of water and 1/2 teaspoon of salt and bring to a simmer. Continue to simmer over medium heat for 30 minutes. Strain and use broth as needed to add liquid to the dish or thin the cream sauce to desired consistency.
Ana Sofia Peláez covers the spectrum of Spanish and Latin American cuisine on her blog hungrysofia.com. From the rich smells and flavors of the Cuban food she grew up with to modern Peruvian causas, hearty Brazilian feijodas and delicate Mexican flor de calabaza soup, she’s always looking for her next great meal.