Sunday, January 30, 2011

New Orleans Style Barbecue Shrimp

New Orleans style barbecue shrimp, made with large shrimp, Creole seasoning, beer, hot sauce, olive oil, lots of Worcestershire sauce and pepper, and a sinful amount of butter.
New Orleans style barbecue shrimp, made with large shrimp, Creole seasoning, beer, hot sauce, olive oil, lots of Worcestershire sauce and pepper, and a sinful amount of butter.

New Orleans Style Barbeque Shrimp

 It is said that the recipe for New Orleans Style BBQ Shrimp was born many, many years ago at Pascal's Manale Restaurant - a nearly 100-year-old eatery located on Napoleon Avenue in New Orleans, Louisiana.

 How the name came to be though, well, nobody really seems to know, because New Orleans Style BBQ shrimp are not smoked, or cooked on a grill, and there is never anything remotely resembling a barbecue sauce that ever touches them.

The name probably comes from the smokey flavor that the shrimp gets from the Worcestershire sauce and the spicy, peppery seasonings. Instead of a roll around in a hot tub of spiced up water, these shrimp are juked up in a spicy, heavy on the butter, yummy sauce, that is loaded with flavor and a proper southern kick. Oh yeah.

To get the true experience of New Orleans style BBQ shrimp, try to use whole, raw, head on shrimp, if at all possible, because there is a lot of flavor that comes out of the shells and natural fats of the shrimp heads. That said, even for me with a shrimping husband, extra large head on shrimp is hard to come by except for right off the boat. In fact, I was waiting all last winter and spring for The Cajun to go shrimping so I could get some nice shrimp big enough for this dish when, of course, BP interrupted those plans.

Last year the season opened early before any oil entered our shrimping waters so we ended up with smaller shrimp and no extra large ones most appropriate for this dish. Recently when The Cajun and I were passing by the big seafood market I like, I went in search of some bigger ones, but even those were all already headed. I would like to have gone even larger on the shrimp, but to be honest the price on shrimp right now, yes, even for us, is a little high for my liking.

Anyway, while you can certainly get a great dish of saucy shrimp made with headless shrimp, and even with already peeled shrimp, flavor-wise, the real deal is made using those very large, head-on shrimp, so grab those for this dish whenever you can. The heads really do make a difference.

I have always prepared my BBQ shrimp in the oven, but you can do these on the stovetop in a large enough skillet too, which honestly may be the way many restaurants prepare individual servings anyway.

Use a large, wide skillet though and do batches. Bring the sauce up to a boil, reduce the heat, toss in half of the shrimp and simmer them at medium until they are done. Remove those, do the next batch and then combine them all back together to warm them all back through. I prefer the slower method of the oven, tossing them a few times, and letting them just slowly grab up all that buttery seasoning in between those shells.

The recipe is very simple and very rich. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Then, melt up a pound of butter... what?

Yes. Don't faint.

I did say a POUND of butter y'all.

Hey, look up any good New Orleans Style BBQ Shrimp recipe and you'll see butter. Lots of butter. Soooo, let's just accept it and move along shall we? You won't actually be consuming all of that butter anyway, not really, so it's all good. You melt that butter up with some olive oil, Worcestershire, garlic, salt, Creole seasoning, and a little beer if ya like - The Cajun doesn't consume, so I don't add it. Lay them pretty shrimp out on a rimmed baking sheet.

Pour that rich sauce all over the shrimp and toss 'em around a bit.

Squeeze a lemon on top and crack fresh pepper all over the top. A lot of black pepper. All over.

Slice up another lemon and scatter those on top and bake at 375 degrees F about 10 minutes. Remove, turn, and bake another 10 to 15 minutes or until cooked through. You don't want to overcook. Remove and toss again.

Spoon the shrimp into a platter, pour the sauce over the top and scatter some green onion all around. I like to lay out a tablecloth of newspaper, with a couple of rolls of paper towels scattered around the tabletop and serve these up in big soup bowls with plenty of juice in the bottom. Add a couple loaves of hot and crusty French bread to sop up that juice, and some high quality and very cold bottled beer.

Similar in appearance to boiled shrimp, but much messier, you'll need both hands, all your fingers, and rolled up sleeves to indulge in this dish, but it's worth all the lack of formalities - just don't wear your good clothes for his feast.

Shells go right on the newspaper, and when you're done, you can just remove the bowls, roll up the paper and toss.

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Posted by on January 30, 2011
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