Shrimp and Tomato Pie

Just as Southerners often refer to any baked dish that contains eggs as a soufflé, so can they loosely use the word pie to describe both savory and sweet baked concoctions with a bread crumb or cornbread crust. Throughout the South, the affinity of shrimp and tomatoes manifests itself in all sorts of soups, stews, casseroles, salads, aspics, and sandwiches, but never does the marriage seem so well defined and perfect as in this pie, which is just as likely to show up on a bridge luncheon in Kentucky as on a deck buffet in coastal Florida. I’ve never seen this pie made with anything but firm, fresh shrimp; when I once tried to substitute crabmeat, the result was a mushy disaster. Needless to say, the ideal time to make the pie is summer, when juicy ripe tomatoes are at their peak. To add a little more depth, you might want to fold into the mixture a little fried, crumbled bacon along with the shrimp.

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Ingredients

  • cups dry bread crumbs
  • 1 cup milk
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 small onion, minced
  • ½ small green bell pepper, seeded and minced
  • 2 medium ripe tomatoes, peeled, seeded, and chopped
  • 4 tablespoons (½ stick) butter, melted
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tablespoon dry sherry
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • Tabasco sauce to taste
  • pounds medium fresh shrimp, shelled and deveined

Method

Preheat the oven to 350°F.

In a large bowl, combine 2 cups of the bread crumbs and the milk and let soak.

In a large skillet, melt the 2 tablespoons of butter over moderate heat, add the onion, bell pepper, and tomatoes and cook, stirring, till the mixture softens and the tomatoes lose most of their juices, about 10 minutes. Add the mixture to the soaked bread crumbs, add 2 tablespoons of the melted butter, the mustard, Worcestershire, sherry, salt and pepper, and Tabasco and stir till well blended. Fold the shrimp into the mixture, then scrape into a buttered 1½- to 2-quart baking dish. Scatter the remaining bread crumbs evenly over the mixture, drizzle the remaining melted butter over the top, and bake till golden brown, 35 to 40 minutes.

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