Barbecue shrimp, (or barbecued shrimp, or bbq shrimp, can't ever pin anyone down on this, or anything else of a Cajun nature, for that matter) neither cooked on a 'barbie', nor slathered with sauce of the same name, is a drippy, garlic-y, herbal-ly, buttery, delightful mess of a dish, adored by one and most, and certainly, yours truly.
Well, just as the late Justin Wilson, famous cajun cook and humorist, might say, I'ma tole you, its worth dat mess. Dey going give you some oh dem wet nackins to clean you's hans, and you's gonna see dat dees babies is some good, cher. You gots to pick you up sum of deez jumbo shrimps, maybe tree or two pounds, and make dis stuff fo youself, and you will see it taste much mo betta than it looks.
See? Not so easy to pin down Cajun matters, as I said.
The dish is not easy to find outside of Louisiana, or, for that matter, inside Louisiana, either. Folklore suggests it originated at Pascal's Manale, in Uptown New Orleans, but history, and availability, is spotty. So, after studying my favorite Creole cookbooks, and reminiscing upon the versions I'd been served, I took to the kitchen. After testing about 15 pounds of shrimp's-worth of recipes (oh that was not so hard at all) as I am wont to do, I tweaked this sauce so that it tasted just like I remembered, plus a tad bit 'mo betta'.
Seriously, it's good, cher.
serves 2 for an entrée,alone, 4 for main dish with grits, or 6 -8 appetizer servings
2 small lemons, sliced
1 small onion, minced
1 head garlic, broken into cloves, but left unpeeled
2 sticks butter, melted
1 small lemon, juiced
2 T crushed dried rosemary
1T from maggie's farm farmstand seasoning, or (all purpose seasoning of your choice, but omit salt added below)
1 t , or more to taste, crushed red pepper flakes
1 T schezuan peppercorns
1 bay leaf
1 cup dark beer (Abita Beer, Turbo Dog is the dark beer of choice in South Louisiana)
Worcestershire Powder—I used 2 T of powdered Worcestershire, which lends a concentrated flavor, but doesn’t thin the buttery broth too much, however, if powdered Worcestershire isn’t handy, ¼ cup Worcestershire sauce may be substituted.
kosher salt, freshly-ground black pepper, hot pepper sauce (Louisiana (brand) Hot Sauce is our favorite, here) to taste
Layer shrimp, sliced lemons, and chopped onion in a baking dish. Toss in the garlic cloves. Combine broth ingredients and cover shrimp. Bake, covered in a 375 degree oven, for 20-25 minutes, turning shrimp halfway, or until shrimp are pink and opaque. (note: overcooking the shrimp will make them tough and hard to peel.) Uncover, and let set until cool enough to handle. Serve with a some warm damp cloth napkins (a dozen or so'll do you) and a baguette for 'sopping' the broth. This is not optional. This is mandatory. This is gooooood.
|Photographer gets the leftovers. Yay, me!|
Pinch the garlic cloves and they will pop out of their skins. We love to eat them, and the minced onion, on the chunks of 'dunked' bread, along with the shrimp. Peel shrimp by grasping the body firmly and twisting the head off. Turn the shrimp over and pull off its legs and peel away its shell, working from the top to the tail, then simply pull on it until comes away.
Why keep the shrimp heads (ewe!) on?
The fat in the head melts, and lends it's flavor to the broth. Believe me, it's not anywhere near as good if one uses heads-off shrimp. Promise you, when you gently pull the heads away from the body, nothing gooky happens.
Y'all, it's sooooo worth the mess.
Cajun English Dialect
Cajun French Glossary, Louisiana State University