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Lucien’s Shrimp Spaghetti


½ cup canola oil

2¼ pounds yellow onions, finely diced

1½ tablespoons kosher salt

1 garlic clove, minced

½ cup finely diced celery

½ cup finely diced green bell pepper

5 cups canned tomato sauce, divided*

5 teaspoons sugar, divided

2½ pounds peeled and deveined small or medium shrimp

½ teaspoon cracked black pepper

Pinch cayenne pepper

1 tablespoon hot sauce, preferably

Original Louisiana Brand Hot Sauce

1 pound spaghetti, cooked according to package instructions

For serving: Grated Parmesan cheese, finely chopped flat-leaf parsley, and sliced green onion

*Buy canned tomato sauce (not pasta sauce) with no added sugar or salt. This is important, because canned tomatoes are often racked with sugar and sodium.

If you’d like one less pot to wash, cook the spaghetti right in the sauce the way some Cajuns do: Crack the spaghetti in half and add it to the pot along with ¼ cup water. The pasta’s starch helps to thicken the sauce. Cover the pot and simmer the noodles in the sauce for about 15 minutes.


  1. Warm a wide, heavy-bottomed 15-quart dutch oven or stockpot over medium-high heat for 2 minutes, then add oil and heat for 30 seconds. Add onions—you should hear a sizzle when they hit the oil—and season with salt. Stir well to coat onions with oil, then cook, stirring often, until onions are soft and golden (they should not have a lot of color at this point), about 25 minutes. Add garlic and cook, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes. Reduce heat to medium-low, add celery and bell pepper, and cook, stirring occasionally, until soft, about 45 minutes.
  2. Now you’re going to add the tomato sauce ½ cup at a time. Each time you add tomato sauce, add ½ teaspoon sugar (scandalous, I know). So, let’s begin. Add ½ cup of the sauce and ½ teaspoon of the sugar, stir, and heat until the sauce is simmering and bubbling but not boiling, then simmer for 15 to 20 minutes. Repeat this process until you’ve added all the sauce and sugar, then reduce heat to its lowest setting and cook, stirring every 10 minutes, for 45 minutes more.
  3. Meanwhile, put shrimp in a large bowl and season with black pepper, cayenne, and hot sauce. Let it marinate on the counter while the sauce simmers.
  4. When the sauce has simmered for 45 minutes, add shrimp and 4 cups hot water to the pot and stir to combine. Raise heat to medium-high to bring tomato sauce back up to a simmer, then reduce heat to maintain a simmer and cook for 20 minutes, or until sauce has thickened to the consistency of pizza sauce and no longer looks watery. Turn off the heat and let everything sit together for 30 minutes to allow the flavors to marry.
  5. Serve the sauce over the cooked spaghetti, topped with Parmesan and garnished with parsley and green onion.
From Ode to Chauvin.
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