Easy BBQ Shrimp Recipe and Louisiana History on The Savory Dish
One of my favorite dishes is BBQ Shrimp. Because I’m not the best when it comes to culinary skills, I was searching the internet for BBQ Shrimp recipes that are fairly easy, but also keep the traditional New Orleans ingredients and concept. I found a winner and I thought before I share it with you, I’d give you a little history on how this delicious creation got started.
First of all, no one is really sure why it’s called BBQ shrimp. It has absolutely nothing to do with barbecue sauce or a barbecue grill. The mystery of what exactly was going through the chef’s mind when he named it always had me curious. The story is that it was invented in New Orleans and started from the Italian community. According to Southern Comfort Bed & Breakfast, the original recipe for BBQ Shrimp comes from an Uptown restaurant called Pascal’s Manale in the mid-1950s. The local Italian restaurant opened in 1913 on Napoleon Ave. One of the regulars, Vincent Sutro, had just returned from Chicago for a business trip and went to Pascal’s to dine. While he was in Chicago, he tried a dish and loved it. He loved it so much that he explained it to Chef Jake Radosta, the chef at Pascal’s. He told Radosta it had something to do with shrimp, butter, and a lot of pepper. Radosta tried to make it per his request and did the best he could with the description he was given. When he served Sutro his creation, Sutro said it was not what he had in Chicago. Sutro told him it was even better. Pascal’s Manale Restaurant ended up putting the dish on their regular menu and it’s never come off of the menu. Now it’s a New Orleans staple and you can find it at almost every restaurant in the city.
Again, BBQ Shrimp has nothing to do with BBQ. It’s a shrimp dish that is delicately prepared in a rich butter sauce with Worcestershire, garlic, and pepper. Some prepare it leaving the heads and tails of the shrimp on, which means you have to peel them. This was the original way it was presented. You'd definitely need a bib so you could dig in and enjoy it. Now, more and more people will prepare them peeled for an easier and cleaner dining experience. When dining out, many people will only order them if they are prepared already peeled so they don’t have to worry about the mess. They are served so many ways. The traditional way is to dip French bread in the sauce. Restaurants have since gotten creative with all the ways to serve it and now you can get BBQ Shrimp over white rice, BBQ Shrimp Po-boys, and even BBQ Shrimp and Grits is often on Brunch menus.
I chose Chef John’s recipe from the Food Wishes website. I chose this recipe for several reasons. The biggest reason, it’s pretty easy. If it were too complicated, it wouldn’t happen. My second reason is that it’s actually almost identical to Emeril’s version, which I love. The only difference is Emeril adds white wine and onions. (So, I just add that in.) The other reason I chose this recipe is that Chef John’s version is much lighter than what most recipes call for. In this one, he only uses a half a stick of butter. I know, I know. ONLY A HALF A STICK?
Ingredients for 4 servings:
1 ½ to 2 pounds of colossal shrimp (the larger, the better)
1 ½ tbsp vegetable oil
1 tablespoon freshly ground black pepper, or to taste
¼ tsp smoked paprika
1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
1/8 tsp Old Bay seasoning, optional
4 tbsp cold butter, cut in cubes
6 cloves garlic, minced
1 tbsp minced fresh rosemary
1 ½ cups shrimp stock (using reserved shells, sautéed in 1 tsp butter, and simmered with 2 cups stock or water for 20-130 minutes)
Juice of 1 lemon
Hot sauce to taste
2-3 tbsp Worcestershire sauce, or to taste
White rice (if that is what you want to serve it with)
1. Peel shrimp and place into a mixing bowl; set shrimp shells aside in a saucepan.
2. Drizzle vegetable oil over shrimp and season with black pepper, smoked paprika, cayenne pepper, and seafood seasoning. Mix shrimp to coat with spices and cover the bowl with plastic wrap; refrigerate shrimp to absorb flavors, at least 1 hour.
3. Place reserved shrimp shells in a saucepan over medium-high heat with 1 tablespoon butter; cook and stir until shells are pink and fragrant, 1 to 2 minutes. Pour in chicken stock, bring to a boil, and reduce heat to low; simmer until shrimp shells have given off their flavor, 20 to 30 minutes.
4. Strain shrimp stock through a fine-mesh strainer into a bowl and add lemon juice, Worcestershire sauce, and hot sauce. Stir to combine.
5. Place a large skillet over high heat until pan is very hot; sear shrimp in the very hot, dry pan until shrimp are browned, about 1 minute per side.
6. Stir 3 tablespoons cold butter, garlic, and minced rosemary into shrimp; cook and stir until shrimp are opaque in the middle and garlic is fragrant, 1 minute. Pour in shrimp stock.
7. Transfer shrimp from skillet to a bowl, using a slotted spoon; reserve sauce in skillet. Bring sauce to a boil and cook until reduced slightly, about 5 minutes. Adjust seasoning to taste. Return shrimp to pan, reduce heat to low, and warm through, about 1 minute. Serve shrimp drizzled with pan sauce; garnish with a rosemary sprig.
It sounds complicated when you read the recipe, but I promise if you watch the video of Chef John doing it, you’ll see that it isn’t that complicated. Believe me, if I can do it so can you.