Cookin’ with Coasties: FS3 Justin Kennelly

Cookin’ with Coasties is a series that features food specialists stationed at Coast Guard units throughout Alaska, and recipes to their favorite meals they prepare for their crews.

FS3 Justin Kennelly prepares Shrimp Etouffee aboard the Coast Guard Cutter SPAR at Base Kodiak, Alaska, Nov. 13, 2014. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 1st Class Kelly Parker.

FS3 Justin Kennelly prepares Shrimp Etouffee aboard the Coast Guard Cutter SPAR at Base Kodiak, Alaska, Nov. 13, 2014. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 1st Class Kelly Parker.

Cooking in a galley can present its challenges. Deciding each recipe to make with the ingredients at hand, prepping numerous components and eventually preparing the actual meal three times a day, there’s a lot that goes into the final product. Now imagine doing all of that in 15-foot seas.

That’s another day at the office for Petty Officer 3rd Class Justin Kennelly. A native of Secaucus, N.J., Kennelly has been stationed aboard the Coast Guard Cutter SPAR, a 225-foot seagoing buoy tender nicknamed the Aleutian Keeper, for the past two years, which has entailed patrolling the Arctic twice and visiting the remote islands of Kiska and Adak.

“Cooking on a cutter definitely presents a lot of challenges including being recalled and having to rewrite the menu to fit the rations we have,” said Kennelly. “There are also times where we hit rough weather and have to line our counters with traction mats as soon as possible so things won’t fly off of the counters.”

Even with the challenges of preparing meals out at sea, Kennelly continues to have a passion for cooking. It’s a passion he shares with this father, a professional chef who helped inspire him to join the rate of food service specialist.

“My favorite part about cooking is the fact that everything you work to prep throughout the day is finished and put on display by lunch or dinner,” said Kennelly. “At the end of the day you can see what you accomplished with all of your hard work.”

Below, Kennelly shares with us one of his favorite recipes he prepares for the crew of the SPAR – a dish worthy of the sea.

A photo of a plate of Shrimp Etouffee, a meal FS3 Justin Kennelly enjoys to serve to the crew of CGC SPAR. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 1st Class Kelly Parker.

A photo of a plate of Shrimp Etouffee, a meal FS3 Justin Kennelly enjoys to serve to the crew of CGC SPAR. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 1st Class Kelly Parker.

Shrimp Etouffee

Total Time:
2 hr 20 min
Prep:
20 min
Cook:
2 hr
About 10 servings

Ingredients

6 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
4 cups chopped onions
2 cups chopped green bell peppers
2 cups chopped celery
2 tablespoons minced garlic
1 (14.5-ounce) can diced tomatoes
2 bay leaves
2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 quart shrimp stock (see recipe below)
3 pounds medium shrimp (21 to 25 count per pound), peeled and deveined
1/4 cup chopped parsley leaves
Steamed white rice, for serving
1/2 cup thinly sliced green onion tops, for garnish

Directions

Melt the butter in a large Dutch oven set over medium heat. Add the flour and stir continuously to make a roux. Stir the roux over medium heat until the color of peanut butter, 5 to 7 minutes. Add the onions, bell peppers, celery, and garlic to the roux, and cook, stirring often, for 10 minutes. Add the tomatoes to the pot and season with the bay leaves, salt, cayenne, and 1 tablespoon of the Essence. Cook the tomatoes for 2 to 3 minutes and then whisk in the shrimp stock.

Bring the mixture to a boil, and reduce to a simmer. Cook the etouffee, stirring occasionally, for 45 minutes. Season the shrimp with the remaining tablespoon of Essence and add them to the pot, stirring to evenly distribute. Cook the shrimp for 5 to 7 minutes, or until they are cooked through. Add the chopped parsley to the pot and stir to combine.

Serve immediately over steamed white rice and garnish with sliced green onion tops.

Shrimp Stock

1 pound (about 1 quart) shrimp shells and heads
1 cup coarsely chopped yellow onions
1/2 cup coarsely chopped celery
3 smashed garlic cloves
1 bay leaf
1 teaspoon black peppercorns
1 teaspoon dried thyme
2 teaspoons salt

Place the shrimp shells and heads in a large colander and rinse under cold running water for several minutes.

Combine the shrimp shells and remaining ingredients in a heavy 6-quart stockpot, add 4 quarts water, and bring to a boil over high heat. Skim to remove any foam that rises to the surface. Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer, uncovered, for 45 minutes, skimming occasionally.

Remove the stock from the heat and strain through a fine-mesh sieve into a clean container; let cool completely. Refrigerate the stock for up to 3 days or freeze in airtight containers for up to 2 months.

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