Party Gras!
Creole-Style Barbecue Shrimp

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.

I remember, long ago, when they were first offered to me.  It went something like 'Go ahead, order THAT.'  And I thought...First, um, Barbecue Shrimp?  Huh? Barbecue sauce on shrimp? Yuck.  When I was corrected and educated about the whole affair, I acquiesced, and ordered THAT.  Once served said dish, I was horrified to find the heads still on the shrimp, crazy-long feelers all poking out of the bowl,  little beady eyes looking up at me.  And then I realized that all that buttery, shrimp-heady sauce was going to get all over my hands when I peeled (and de-headed!) them.  Ewe!  (and I bet more than a few of you are thinking the same thing.)

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.

barbecue shrimp
serves 2 for an entrée,alone, 4 for main dish with grits, or 6 -8 appetizer servings

2 lbs jumbo shrimp, head's on  (I'm always going to use gulf shrimp, fresh almost always, and when I can afford a day-long road trip, straight from the boats)
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!
(Okay, if you must, you can serve these, optionally, over creamy grits.  But maybe you should still save some broth for at least a tiny piece of baguette.  Cause, really.  It's that good.)  
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.

Read more:
Cajun English Dialect
Cajun French Glossary, Louisiana State University


  1. Okay your photos are amazing! (I meant to tell you that the other day that you should be doing paid photo shoots) I miss watching Justin on PBS with my Daddy- We would crack up. I had his cookbook but gave it away as a gift to someone that also adored him. I swear I'm going try this Barbeque shrimp. Happy Saturday!

  2. I love, love, love BBQ Shrimp. Did I mention I love it? Ha! This is one of my favorite recipes. I first had this dish at Mr. B's Bistro and was hooked. "its worth dat mess" So true! I'm looking forward to trying your recipe. It sounds delicious:)

  3. @Kristina--I have a JW cookbook with an inscription that says 'To a lovely, foxy lady, I garontee'. He was a sweet ole character. If you're budget minded, Fiesta has these heads-on shrimp for 4.99 a lb!!
    @Steph, I ate myself sick yesterday! It was all I could do to stop and save some for hubby's homecoming today!

  4. When you get a moment, please stop by my blog and pick up your award! :)


Thank you for visiting Notes from Maggie's Farm. I'd love to hear your thoughts!

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...