Sitting here working on menus for upcoming cooking classes, I am reminded of a time when I was a young girl, and my dad was getting ready for a Deep Sea Fishing event. The night before the fishing trip he would invite all the “guys” over for a special, traditional, pre-fishing trip dinner. The menu consisted of BBQ Shrimp, lots of hot French Bread for dipping into the sauce, a big green salad and Spanish Flan for dessert. Why such a simple menu, you might wonder…..because when my Mom made her BBQ Shrimp that is all anybody wanted to eat and eat they did!! About 5 men would consume about 10 pounds of Louisiana shrimp and about 4 loaves of hot French bread, a huge green salad that acted as the vegetable and the Spanish Flan (also known as caramel custard) was just what one needed to help soothe the system after all that spicy shrimp.
There are now so many versions of this local dish as there are Italians in this city and many of them are based on copious amounts of butter! I do not get upset when I read about all the different versions but it does irritate me to no end when I see recipes that include chili sauce, a barbeque pit, or other sweet, tomato based sauces!
So let’s start at the beginning…..BBQ Shrimp were invented at a local Italian restaurant called Pascal’s Manale’s Restaurant here in New Orleans. Pascal Radosta and Frank Manale were partners. The upcoming shrimp season was upon them and they were trying to create a new shrimp dish to add to the menu. The original recipe was as follows: Place fresh, whole, unpeeled, head-on shrimp, two shrimp deep in a roasting pan. Cover the shrimp with slices of MARGARINE………not butter….and after you completely cover those shrimp with the margarine, you heavily sprinkle the margarine with fine, ground black pepper. Place the pan of shrimp in a hot oven, approximately 375*F and cook, stirring every 5-10 minutes until shrimp turn pink and are firm to the touch. (This might take 15-20 minutes.) Serve the shrimp in deep bowls and pour a few spoons of sauce over the shrimp and serve with hot, crusty French bread. When the other Italian restaurants in town noticed the lines of guests outside and around the block waiting to be seated in a fine dining restaurant to eat shrimp with their fingers…..they all decided to come up with their own versions.
The one our family loved came from a wonderful Sicilian restaurant called Mosca’s. The recipe was given to my Mom by the owner’s wife. The original recipe can be found in my cookbook on page 7. Over the years the recipe I teach in my classes has evolved after my youngest daughter requested a creamier, less oily version and that recipe I am happy to share with you here……it always gets rave reviews from my students. I especially love it when they say they had tasted them in a local restaurant and that my version was way better! The main difference in my recipe and most others is that mine is made with olive oil and not butter, it is cooked in a saucepan on top of the stove and not in the oven and finally mine has a little whipping cream at the end to make more of a sauce than just melted butter. Please give them a try and let me know what you think! Enjoy!
New Orleans BBQ Shrimp
2 1/2 – 3 pounds whole large shrimp, head-on and unpeeled
1 1/2 cups olive oil
1-2 teaspoons lemon-pepper
1/2-1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
2 tablespoons Lea & Perrins Worcestershire sauce
2 tablespoons finely minced, FRESH garlic
4 tablespoons fresh Rosemary leaves (or 2 tabsp. dried)
1 tablespoons dried oregano
2 large bay leaves (fresh if possible)
1 cup dry white wine
1 cup heavy whipping cream
**Place all ingredients EXCEPT cream in a large roasting pan or deep bowl. Mix well to coat all the shrimp. Cover and marinate for at least 30 minutes but no longer than 2 hours. When ready to serve, heat a large skillet over med-heat. Lift the shrimp out of the marinade using a slotted spoon and allow it to drip dry a moment. Add the shrimp to the hot pan no more than 2 deep and stir fry just until shrimp turn pink. Remove pink shrimp from the pan and place in another pot and repeat this method until all the shrimp are cooked. Now add all the marinade to the cooked shrimp and bring it to a boil; stir in the heavy cream and mix well. As soon as it comes up to heat, turn off heat and serve immediately. Serve in deep bowls and make sure to top with the sauce. Pass lots of hot, crusty French bread for dipping into the sauce.
Caramel Custard Flan Page 48
P.S. You can “see” me preparing this dish on a You Tube video by How 2 Heroes. I also have a You Tube video preparing my Uncle Frank’s Oyster Dressing!
Until next time…..Bon Appetit, Chiqui