Moi's Official Entry to Chef Troll's Culinary Throwdown:
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Those of you who kept up with last season’s Top Chef may remember that one of the later challenges facing the contestants was to make a guest judge’s last meal. Which got me thinking: with what would I choose to stuff myself silly during my last night on earth?
Would it be something native, whipped up by my hometown homies, Bruno and Hazel Herrera, owner/operators of what is arguably the best New Mexican restaurant in the universe?
Or something more rarified, like a mound of pate fois gras and . . . well. What more do you need if you have a mound o’ pate? Except maybe a big ol’ block of Limburger just to, you know, really push the PC envelope.
How about my favorite pasta dish, a perfectly cooked spaghetti carbonara, which, while oh-so-easy to mess up, is pretty much culinary heaven rolled on a fork when you get it right.
Or should I just go out with a real bang, like as many Top Pot donuts that a harried Fed Ex worker could Next Day Air, because hell, I’ll be dead in the morning so who’s worried about the cholesterol?
Or would it be one of my favorite southern dishes, like a heaped high sauce pan full of BBQ shrimp, accompanied by a hunk of my favorite French homie’s el perfecto baguette, real European butter, and a glass of perfectly chilled Kiwi-produced Sauvignon Blanc?
The first time I ate BBQ shrimp I was on my first dinner date with S.B., who assured me it was about the best thing to come out of his native state of Louisiana. He was right. I was instantly addicted and if it’s on a menu, I’ll order it. To the exclusion of just about everything else, except maybe a fried oyster po’boy. Then again, I’ve been known to aw hell, just go ahead and order both, I'll negotiate with my arteries later.
I also make the dish myself, but not often, because it’s one of those apply directly to thighs, do no pass go, do not get up the next day and think you can run it off, no siree, these five pounds are here for at least another month kinds of dishes.
In other words: sinfully good. If sex were a dish, it would be BBQ shrimp. Just one gal's opinion, sure, but I'm often right about these things and you know it.
Here’s how I do it:
Moi's BBQ Shrimp for Two
(double or quadruple if you’re feeding more folks)
1 one-pound stick of butter, softened
1 T. Hungarian paprika
1 t. cayenne pepper
1 t. ground black pepper
2 t. ground sea salt
1 t. dried thyme
1 t. dried basil
1 t. dried oregano
2 cloves minced garlic
½ cup of high quality virgin olive oil
Juice of two lemons
2 bay leaves
1 T Worcestershire Sauce
Ten shakes of Tabasco sauce
1 pound fresh shrimp, heads and shells still attached if possible (if no heads, then leave shells on)
3 green onions or 1 T fresh chives, chopped
2 T. chopped fresh parsley
Put softened butter in a bowl and with a fork mix in paprika, cayenne, black pepper, salt, thyme, basil, oregano, and garlic. Set aside. (If possible, do this up to a day ahead of time, store in the refrigerator, and bring out to soften about an hour before cooking.)
Run shrimp under cold water and drain thoroughly. In a large skillet set on medium heat, melt the butter/spice/herb mixture. When fully melted and just starting to bubble (do NOT let the butter brown), add shrimp and fry for five minutes until they start to turn pink. Add olive oil, juice of two lemons, bay leaves, and Worcestershire sauce. Turn heat up until you achieve a rapid boil and cook shrimp another 5 to 7 minutes. It’s important to cook at this level so that the peels add their flavor to the sauce and the sauce makes its way under the shells. Just be careful not to overcook.
Pull from the heat and sprinkle with green onions (or chives) and chopped parsley. Serve immediately with fresh hunks of French bread for dipping, letting your guests scoop out the shrimp and sauce into individual bowls. Or if it’s just the two of you, do the Nietzsche thing and dip straight out of the pan – less to clean up.
P.S. Part of the challenge was to put your own spin on a traditional southern dish and post it by today, May 13. I posted in time, but outside of roasting some poblanos or Big Jims and tossing them, in, you can't really "spin" BBQ Shrimp. Unless drinking wine instead of beer with the dish counts.