Sure, everyone’s talking Super Bowl, but the real party is this Tuesday: Fat Tuesday, to be exact. It’s been a while since I celebrated Mardi Gras in New Orleans, so it’s time for the next best thing: one of my favorite Nawlins dishes!
The first unusual thing you notice about the classic dish, New Orleans BBQ Shrimp, is that it’s not cooked on a barbecue grill and it contains no barbecue sauce. So why the name? Its origin goes back to the mid-1950’s, to an Italian restaurant in New Orleans called Pascale’s Manale. (It’s still there. http://www.pascalsmanale.com) A regular customer had just returned from Chicago, where he had dined on an amazing shrimp dish. He asked the chef at Pascale’s Manale to try and replicate it, and what resulted was actually better than the original. And though no barbecue grill or sauce was used, it is believed that they gave it the name “BBQ Shrimp” to cash in on the backyard barbecuing craze that was all the rage at the time.
The classic New Orleans BBQ Shrimp is served with shell-on shrimp, so you have to make a big, buttery mess of yourself as you devour it. And it’s served with plenty of crusty French bread.
Unfortunately, with a gluten-free household, I have to skip the bread. So I make rice on the side, and instead of leaving the shell on the shrimp, I peel and de-vein them, using the shrimp shells to make a stock I cook the rice in.
For the seasoning…
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 1/2 teaspoons fresh ground black pepper
1 teaspoon fresh rosemary, very finely chopped
1/4 teaspoon oregano
1/4 teaspoon granulated garlic
1/4 teaspoon granulated onion
1/4 teaspoon paprika
1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/8 teaspoon white pepper
Mix all the seasoning spices and set aside.
For the BBQ shrimp…
2 lbs. large wild-caught American shrimp, peeled and de-veined
1 stick butter (4 oz.)
1/2 cup beer
1/4 cup Worcestershire sauce
For the rice…
1 cup rice (I like organic basmati)
2 1/4 cups water or seafood stock (see below)
1 teaspoon olive oil
1/2 teaspoon Tony Chachere’s Original Creole Seasoning
Cook the rice following the directions on the package. I like using stock instead of water when I cook my rice, so after peeling all the shrimp, I toss the shells in a saucepan full of water and I boil the heck out of it, strain it, and use that stock to cook the rice. I add the olive oil and the Tony Chachere’s (available online or at your favorite food store) to the stock before cooking.
To cook the shrimp, I heat a little olive oil in a large skillet over moderate heat. Then I add the shrimp, and sear them on one side (about 30 seconds) and then flip them over to sear on the other side (another 30 seconds.) I’m not trying to cook them all the way through, just get them a bit caramelized. Then I remove the shrimp from the skillet and set them aside.
(I serve the BBQ Shrimp over the rice with broccoli. If you want to use broccoli, add a little butter and olive oil to the same pan you seared the shrimp in. Cook until the broccoli is nicely caramelized, then remove from the pan and set aside.)
In the same skillet, I heat the butter until the foam subsides. Then I add the beer, Worcestershire sauce, and 2 teaspoons of the seasoning mix. I mix well, then add the shrimp and broccoli back in the pan, simmering for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.