Carol's New Orleans Barbecued Shrimp
Yield: 4 to 6 servings
This recipe has been a favorite at our house for years, though it never comes out the same way twice. Feel free to modify "and adapt; over time we've come to use less and less fat, more and more hot pepper. Mega-garlic has always been a given; it's half the charm of the dish. The other half is a seriously hot broiler. If you can really blast the shrimp, the thin shells become edible, a deliciously crisp and fragile contrast to the soft meat.
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- 5 pounds whole shrimp in the shell, 3-1/2, pounds headless (see note on substitutions)
- 3 tablespoons dried rosemary
- coarsely cracked black pepper, several twists of the mill
- 1/2 to 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 1/4 cup butter
- 1/2 cup olive oil, scant
- 1/3 to 1/2 cup finely minced garlic, about 6 to 8 large cloves
- 2-1/2 teaspoons Tabasco sauce, or more to taste
1. Rinse the shrimp if they're muddy. Spread them out on newspapers to dry off, then transfer to a jelly-roll pan or other shallow baking pan that will hold them all in 1 or 2 layers.
2. Sprinkle evenly with rosemary, rubbing it between your palms to crush it as it falls. Grind on a thin layer of pepper and sprinkle with cayenne.
3. Melt butter, add oil, garlic, Worcestershire, and Tabasco and simmer for 2 or 3 minutes, just long enough to blend flavors. Pour over shrimp and stir well to coat, then set aside to marinate for half an hour or so.
4. Arrange the broiler rack so the shrimp will be as close as possible to the heat source. Heat the broiler thoroughly. Remove the phone from the hook; from here on, your whole attention should be on the cooking process. Place the pan right under the heat and broil for about 2 minutes, or until the shrimp just start to color. Start shaking the pan, turning the shrimp, agitating them around so all get browned without getting (more than a little bit) burned. The whole process will take from 5 to 8 minutes, depending on the size of the shrimp and ferocity of the broiler. Regrettably, not all home broilers are strong enough to really crisp the shells. If yours is wimpy, just stop as soon as the shrimp are done and expect - lots of napkins! - to peel them. They'll still be delicious.
A NOTE ON SUBSTITUTIONS
There ain't none, really, but small fresh Gulf shrimp may be used in the master recipe and of course are appropriate for Carol's New Orleans Barbecue, though the shells of Gulf shrimp are tougher and will not crisp up enough to eat. Shrimp with peas depends on the sweetness of Maine shrimp; if they are not available, cook something else.