Think Louisiana cuisine and what terms immediately come to mind? Cajun. Creole. Jambalaya. Gumbo. Etouffee. Shrimp remoulade. Chicory coffee. Oyster po’ boys. Andouille sausage. Barbeque shrimp. If you say “say what?” to that last item you’re not alone. Although I’ve eaten New Orleans-style barbeque shrimp many times over the years, its actual name didn’t register until recently when a dear friend shared her recipe for it with me. Perhaps because the dish never touches a barbeque grill and is cooked entirely on the stove top?
This recipe was inspired by classic New Orleans’ barbeque shrimp, but, with some trepidation, I’ve taken liberties with it. Here I’ve used most of the same ingredients of this simple, quickly cooked dish — fresh shrimp in a spicy sauce of Cajun seasoning, garlic, fresh rosemary, red pepper sauce, lemons, Worcestershire sauce, beer, and butter — but in different proportions and using an alternative preparation technique to suit my own taste.
Please keep in mind two cardinal sins of cooking shrimp for this dish and others. First, don’t overcook them. When shrimp are pink, they’re done. Period. And second, don’t throw away shrimp heads without cooking them first to extract their broth since much of the lovely flavor of shrimp resides there. If you have no immediate use for the heads in whatever shrimp dish you are making, then consider stockpiling them in your freezer to make broth with at a later time.
3 pounds jumbo-sized, raw shrimp, with heads, skins, and tails on
2 teaspoons Cajun seasoning (taste first!; some brands are unbelievably salty) or substitute a combination of 1/2 teaspoon paprika with 1/4 teaspoon each of onion powder, garlic powder, cayenne, dried thyme, salt, and pepper
1/2 cup beer
1 loaf of crusty French or other similar bread
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon garlic, peeled and minced
1 1/2 tablespoons fresh rosemary, chopped
1 1/2 tablespoons or more mild red pepper sauce (Crystal brand is ideal here)
1 1/2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
1 large fresh lemon, cut into wedges and the seeds removed
1/3 – 1/2 cup butter, cut into slices
- Peel and remove the heads of the shrimp, leaving the tails on if you like. Place the meat in a bowl, gently stir in the Cajun seasoning, and set aside.
- Briefly rinse the shrimp heads. Then combine them with the shrimp skins and beer in a small sauce pan and boil for approximately 10 minutes. Pour the pan contents through a sieve into a cup, pressing down on the shrimp heads with the back of a spoon to extract every bit of flavor. Set the broth aside for later use in this recipe and discard the shrimp heads and skins.
- Place the bread in a warm oven.
- Measure out and set aside the remaining ingredients next to your stove. This dish cooks very quickly, and you will want all ingredients to be close at hand and ready to go.
- Pre-heat a large frying pan over a large burner set to high, add the olive oil, and then stir in the garlic when the oil is very hot. Sauté, stirring continuously, for approximately 30 seconds until the garlic is golden in color. Stir in the rosemary and sauté for an additional 20-30 seconds, taking care to ensure that the garlic does not burn.
- Stir in the pepper sauce, Worcestershire sauce, and broth, scraping up any bits that might have stuck to the bottom of the pan. Squeeze the juice of the lemons into the pan and add the lemons also. Gently stir in the seasoned shrimp meat and, depending on their size, cook for 2 to 2 1/2 minutes until just barely cooked through. Remove the lemons.
- Reduce the heat and stir in the butter until the sauce takes on a creamy, thickened consistency, for approximately one minute. Remove from the stove, taste, and correct the seasoning, if needed. Serve immediately with the warm bread and lemon wedges. Serves 4 as a main course or 6 as an appetizer.