The perfect meal for this Friday night following the celebration of Fat Tuesday and the beginning of Lent on Wednesday is Cajun Seafood Bread. Loaded with shrimp and crab in a spicy, garlic cream sauce then baked over crusty bread and smothered with cheese, this recipe ranks in my top 10 favorite foods of all time.
I grew up eating this menu favorite at Gordy’s Sub Pub, a popular hangout in my Northern Indiana hometown. When the roads led me home in the years following my departure, Gordy’s and the Cajun Seafood Bread were always on the agenda for a gathering to catch up with family and friends. Unfortunately, in June 2008, Gordy’s Sub Pub burned to the ground. With no plans to rebuild, this left the town of Warsaw with an empty lot and a number of fans, including me, with a massive craving for the diet-busting, toasted sub.
I adopted a new purpose in life for a few days after I learned of the fire. I searched recipes, tried various combinations of ingredients, and gained five pounds. Following a number of decent, yet ultimately failed attempts at re-creating the original recipe, I was ready to throw my hands up in defeat and live with only the memory of the crave-worthy, awe-inspiring, open-faced sub. I supposed Lord Tennyson was right, "'Tis better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all." Okay, so maybe I was being a teensy bit dramatic about the possibility of never eating a properly prepared order of Cajun Seafood Bread again. Once you've tried this recipe, you might feel inspired to quote the romantics too!
Luckily, I experienced a moment of clarity in the midst of my despair, “Why not just ask Gordy himself for the recipe?” In a matter of minutes, I had tracked down Gordy, a former professional basketball player turned restaurateur turned Elvis impersonator on Facebook and sent him a message. I didn’t really believe that I’d get the recipe but maybe, just maybe, he would respond with a hint, a tip, or any sort of guidance to bring me closer to my craving. Unbelievably, the following recipe showed up in my inbox an hour later:
CAJUN SEAFOOD BREAD
From the cookbook of Gordy Clemens
2 lbs raw shrimp thawed, peeled, and deveined
1 lb imitation crab/seafood, chopped
2 oz Red Hot Sauce (Frank’s)
1 stick butter
½ Tbsp chopped garlic
1/8 tsp Cayenne pepper
½ Tbsp black pepper
2 pints heavy whipping cream
1/8 cup corn starch mixed in
1/4 cup cold water
In a heavy skillet, melt butter over medium heat. Add garlic and both peppers. Blend and cook for a couple of minutes. Add hot sauce and cream and bring as close to a boil as possible without actually boiling the mixture. When it’s steaming and on the brink of boiling, add the cornstarch-water mixture, stirring constantly. When the mixture begins to thicken, stir in the shrimp and crabmeat and cook until steaming again. Sauce is ready when the shrimp are pink and cooked through (usually 6-8 minutes). Spread mixture over Kaiser rolls or good baking bread and cover with Mozzarella cheese. Bake at 400 degrees until cheese is melted and browning around edges.
This recipe makes enough for a crowd or plenty leftovers to make these delicious dishes:
*Cajun Seafood Nachos- pour the seafood mixture over tortilla chips and top with Monterrey Jack or cheddar cheese
*Cajun Seafood Pasta- toss with spaghetti
*Cajun Seafood Pizza- spread onto a prepared crust and top with cheese