Tuesday, February 25, 2020

Celebrating Mardi Gras at Home...with Mardi Gras BBQ Shrimp #mardigrasfood #celebrate #shrimp #bigflavorcooking

It's Mardi Gras…one final blow-out celebration before the Lenten season begins with Ash Wednesday tomorrow. Michael and I grew up in the Houston area -- with family members on the Texas-Louisiana border. We love New Orleans food, music, and spirit of celebration…so we love to celebrate Mardi Gras! I like to put on some lively Zydeco music and cook up a special Louisiana-inspired dish to celebrate! My Mardi Gras BBQ Shrimp are perfect for any celebrations you might have planned for tonight. They’re full of the big flavors that we love, and they’re not at all complicated to make. Contrary to their name, they’re not actually BBQ’ed in the typical sense.

Traditionally, this New Orleans specialty requires head-on, unpeeled shrimp simmered in a spicy sauce. However, I recently found a fancied-up version of this dish from Brennan’s of Houston that uses peeled, butterflied headless shrimp. This dish definitely delivers on flavor – with a robust sauce that includes lemon, Worcestershire sauce, and spicy Cajun seasoning. These BBQ shrimp can be certainly be served as an appetizer, but we typically make a meal from them by eating the shrimp and dipping toasted French bread in the addictive, flavorful sauce! A simple salad is all you need for a complete meal.

Mardi Gras BBQ Shrimp
adapted from Brennan’s of Houston
Ingredients (makes 2-3 servings):
  • 1 lb. jumbo head-off shrimp (18-20 count) – peeled, butterflied, with tails left on
  • 2 tbs. butter + 1 tbs. olive oil
  • 1/3 cup julienne poblano pepper
  • 1/3 cup julienne red bell pepper
  • ½ cup julienne shallot
  • 3 garlic cloves, finely minced or grated
  • 1 tsp. hot sauce
  • 1/3 cup half and half
  • 2 green onions, thinly sliced
For the BBQ sauce base:
  • 1 cup Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 cup chicken broth
  • 2 large lemons, quartered
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • 1 tbs. Cajun seasoning
  • ½ tsp. freshly ground black pepper
  • Salt to taste
  • 3 bay leaves
Directions:
Step 1: Make the BBQ base. Add the Worcestershire sauce, chicken broth, quartered lemons, garlic cloves, salt & pepper, Cajun seasoning, and bay leaves to a medium saucepan over med-high heat. Bring to boil, then reduce heat to medium. Cook until the mixture reduces by half – approximately 20 minutes. Strain the reduced mixture through a mesh sieve into a measuring cup – you should have approximately ¾ cup of sauce. Discard solids.
Step 2: Heat the butter and olive oil in a medium cast iron skillet over med-high heat until bubbly. Lower heat to medium. Add the poblano pepper, red bell pepper, shallot, and garlic. Cook, stirring constantly, for approximately 1 minute. Add the shrimp in an even layer and cook for 1-2 minutes.
Step 3: Reduce heat to med-low. Add the reserved sauce, half and half, and hot sauce. Stir to combine the sauce with the shrimp and cook an additional 1-2 minutes -- until the shrimp are just cooked through. Remove from heat and sprinkle with sliced green onion. Serve with lots of warm toasted French bread for dipping in the savory sauce.
This dish is a party all on its own! While making this dish is a two-step process, it’s not overly time-consuming. While the BBQ base reduces on the stove, you have a pocket of time to peel and butterfly the shrimp. Once those two steps are done, the final cook takes less than 10 minutes. The buttery sauce is tangy and spicy, with a touch of savory from the chicken stock. This is an interactive dish -- you use your hands to eat the shrimp and dunk the French bread into the sauce. Sure, it’s a little messy…but that's half the fun! Be sure to bring lots of extra paper towels to the table, put on some Louisiana Zydeco music...and laissez les bon temps rouler!

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