Fine Cooking (April 2014)
On the heels of our trip to New Orleans, we were desperate to get back to cooking. So we hit the stack of April's food magazines.
We had no plans to cook anything that came close to what we'd eaten in New Orleans (and we had eaten so, so much), but in the pages of Fine Cooking were thrilled to see this recipe for New Orleans-Style BBQ Shrimp from a bona fide Louisianan, Miss Poppy Tooker. (Can we just agree that hers is one of the best names ever?)
We keep running across Poppy Tooker in various publications, but most recently heard her on The Splendid Table discussing calas, a beignet-like New Orleans confection that's made with cooked rice. We still haven't made (or eaten) calas, but it has piqued our interest and we've filed it away for another time.
So now Poppy was back, this time with a recipe for New Orleans-Style BBQ Shrimp.
Okay, okay. Just one last New Orleans indulgence...
Why is this recipe an indulgence? Well, butter.
Two sticks of butter.
That's a lot of butter, but that's the New Orleans way, at least in our eating experience there. Everything is wonderfully, awfully, deliriously rich. Actual vegetables -- those that don't include some kind of cream or butter sauce or that haven't found their way into a deep fryer -- are somewhat scarce on menus.
The good news about this recipe is that you don't actually consume all that butter. It's part of an ample sauce that the shrimp cook in. If you eat all the shrimp and then grab a spoon and finish off the sauce, well, that's on you. But we won't judge.
This recipe is a winner, and we're eager to make it for guests. Not only is it easy, it appears darn fancy on the plate. We think it would be a fun dish to serve guests as the starter for a dinner party, though it is somewhat messy, since you pick the heads and shells off the shrimp there at the table.
The sauce, with its butter, lemons and spices, is wickedly delicious, and is surprisingly absent of actual barbecue spices, given the recipe's title. It's mostly spiced with paprika, garlic, cayenne and bay leaves.
If you can't make it to New Orleans this spring, we suggest you make this recipe and have New Orleans come to you.
1 medium lemon
8 oz. (1 cup) unsalted butter
2 Tbs. Worcestershire sauce
1 Tbs. chopped garlic
4 bay leaves
1 tsp. sweet paprika
1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper
1/4 oz. kosher salt (1 Tbs. if using Diamond Crystal, 1/2 Tbs. if using Morton’s)
1/2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
1/2 tsp. freshly cracked black pepper
24 colossal shrimp (12 to 15 per lb.), unshelled, preferably domestic wild-caught and head-on
Cut the lemon in half crosswise, and juice it. Press each half flat on a cutting board, and then cut into 1/2-inch-wide strips.
Melt the butter in a 12-inch skillet over medium-high heat. Reduce the heat to medium low and add the lemon juice and peel, Worcestershire sauce, garlic, bay leaves, paprika, cayenne, salt, ground pepper, and cracked pepper. Stir and simmer for about 5 minutes to blend the flavors, being careful not to let the garlic brown.
Add the shrimp and increase the heat to medium. Cook, turning with tongs, until all the shrimp are beginning to turn pink, 4 to 5 minutes.
Cover the skillet and remove it from the heat. Let sit for 15 minutes so that the shrimp can absorb the flavors and finish cooking, stirring every 5 minutes or so. Serve.