New Orleans Style BBQ Shrimp

After golf Sunday morning Paul dropped by to watch a little of the AT&T Pro Am at Pebble Beach and was thinking that a shrimp appetizer was appealing. I grabbed a couple pounds of shrimp on the way home, but still had no plan upon arriving. Knowing that I was limited to whatever specialty ingredients were already in hand, I decided to go with an all time favorite: BBQ Shrimp.

This dish is a New Orleans creole classic, having nothing in common with grilling or barbeque sauce. 

Rather, it is a rich pan fry of shrimp in herbs, garlic and butter which is then finished as a rich sauce. I am not personally familiar with the history of this preparation, despite a cursory Google search, but know with certainty that it is a staple in New Orleans restaurants.

My adaptation is based on an out of print cookbook: Pierre Franey’s Cooking in America (Knopf, 1992). Pierre in turn adapted it from Paul Prudhomme, which in part explains the excessive quantity of butter. But before you back off the butter, realize that a large group can dig into this sauce and still leave a major portion of it behind – as it is so rich, I don’t remember ever seeing it completely consumed. Typically, we’ll run out of toasted bread for dipping even before the shrimp itself is gone.

I use the spice mixture in the same proportions as Pierre, and think that he mellowed the vast quantities of pepper in a Prudhomme recipe by using artful selection of herbs. In fact, I think it’s the rosemary that marks the secret to the flavoring of this dish. I also greatly increase the quantity of shrimp, as the volume of sauce is ample for as many as 3 or even 4 pounds of shrimp. If cooking more than 2 pounds of shrimp, be sure to cook them in multiple batches.

New Orleans Style BBQ Shrimp
  • Seasoning mix; 1 t cayenne, 1 t kosher salt, 1/2 t thyme, ½t fresh black pepper, ¼ to ½ t oregano, 1 T dried rosemary, crumbled. 
  • Alternate: two large sprigs fresh rosemary, 6 long sprigs of fresh oregano, 4 sprigs fresh thyme.
  • 6 cloves garlic, sliced
  • 2 t worchestershire sauce
  • 2/3 C shrimp stock (see below)
  • 1/3 C bottled beer, preferably hearty (yesterday I used Fat Tire)
  1. Melt 1 stick butter, add seasoning mix and garlic, mix to combine
  2. Add shrimp, cook approx 2-3 minutes, shaking pan and turning shrimp
  3. Add stock boil 1-2 minutes
  4. Add beer and additional 2-4 T butter, simmer until butter melts.
Serve with toasted baguettes or sourdough bread. The NYT no-knead bread would be an ideal choice.

Shrimp Stock
  • Shells from 2 pounds shrimp
  • 2 celery ribs, chopped
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 6-10 black peppercorns
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 7 C purified water
Bring to boil, simmer 5-20 minutes. Strain.

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