New Orleans-Style Barbecue Shrimp
New Orleans-Style Barbecue Shrimp
by Victoria Challancin
New Orleans takes its food seriously. And so it should. It is probably the best, most interesting, and most creative regional food in the United States. Mark Twain once famously said, "New Orleans food is as delicious as the less criminal forms of sin." And that's what I call a serious endorsement!
While it is known that this signature (one of several) New Orleans dish originated in Pascal's Manale Restaurant in the mid-1950s, the actual history of how it got its name, New Orleans-Style Barbecue Shrimp, seems to be lost in time. As it isn't grilled or smoked, nor does it have a hint of what any American would call barbecue sauce on it, the name remains a mystery. But ask any New Orleans native about this dish and its many variations, and he or she will tell you that it is a pile of buttery, spicy, sinfully rich goodness.
When a friend requested this dish recently, I searched for the perfect recipe. Some recipes call for 1 or 2 teaspoons of Worcestershire sauce and a pound of butter. Yes, a pound of butter. Others call for beer. And still others contain Dijon mustard, bacon, and gasp!...margarine. Never! Most use shrimps in their shells, with heads on, of course. It is from New Orleans after all.
I decided to try Emeril Lagasse's modern recipe, which tones down the butter to a manageable fat content and uses Creole-seasoned toasted croutons to scatter on top. In retrospect, I think I would skip the croutons, as tasty as they are, and just serve this dish with a good crusty bread, perfect for sopping up all that goodness--it's much easier than having to spear croutons, however delicious. Even though I know the shrimp would be better cooked in their shells, for simplicity's sake, I peeled them and just left the tails on; Emeril peels them but leaves the heads intact so you can suck the juices, New Orleans' style. You decide.
And if there are any leftovers (and I doubt there will be), do like I did and reheat them in a foil packet in the oven, spear with toothpicks, and enjoy with a nice glass of wine!
As an hors d'oeuvres...
New Style New Orleans Barbecue Shrimp
(Recipe from Emeril Lagasse, Food Network via New New Orleans Cooking, by Emeruk Kagassze and Jessie Tirsch, published by William Morrow)
3 pounds large Gulf shrimp, heads on and in their shells
1 tablespoon Creole seasoning
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons minced garlic
1/4 cup dry white wine
1/2 cup Worcestershire sauce
Juice of 2 lemons
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 tablespoons tor fresh flat-leaf parsley
Simple Croutons, recipe follows, for serving
1 French baguette, preferably day-old, cut into 1/2-inch dice
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
3/4 teaspoon Emeril's Original Essence or Creole Seasoning, recipe follows
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Emeril's ESSENCE Creole Seasoning:
2 1/2 tablespoons paprika
2 tablespoons salt
2 tablespoons garlic powder
1 tablespoon black pepper
1 tablespoon onion powder
1 tablespoon cayenne pepper
1 tablespoon dried oregano
1 tablespoon dried thyme
Peel the shrimp, leaving their heads attached. Sprinkle the shrimp with Creole seasoning, salt, and freshly ground black pepper. Use your hands to completely coat the shrimp with the seasonings.
Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. When the oil is hot, add the seasoned shrimp and sauté them, occasionally shaking the skillet, for 2 minutes. Add the garlic. Deglaze the pan with wine and add the Worcestershire sauce, and lemon juice. Cook for another 2 minutes. Add the torn parsley.
Remove the shrimp from the pan, reserving the liquids. Return the pan to the flame and add the butter to combine. Pour the sauce over the waiting shrimp. Garnish with homemade croutons and enjoy!
For the croutons:
Preheat the oven to 300 degrees F.
Combine the diced bread, olive oil, Creole seasoning, salt and pepper in a large mixing bowl, and toss quickly to coat the croutons well. TRansfer the croutons to a baking sheet and spread them out in a single layer. Bake, rotating the baking sheet front to back midway through, or until he bread cubes are crisp all the way through and golden, 25 to 30 minutes. Remove the bread from the oven and set aside to cool completely. Store the croutons in a an airtight container at room temperature.
For the Essence:
Combine all ingredients thoroughly and store in a clean glass jar.
©Victoria Challancin. All Rights Reserved.