New Orleans Barbecue Shrimp
One of the many things we love about New Orleans is the vibe. It’s a place where we feel like we belong, the moment our feet hit the quaint, festive, balcony-lined streets. There’s an indulgent “anything goes” atmosphere that dovetails with a welcoming spirit and sense of community—even for tourists. This shrimp dish evokes that Big Easy experience with its bold, spicy, complex flavors and communal, one-pot serving that encourages a little bit of messiness and finger-licking as you peel and eat the shrimp and dip your bread in the sauce. In our humble opinion, New Orleans is one of those places that everyone should visit at least once in their lifetime. But if you’re not able to get there, try making a big pot of this shrimp, then eat it with your favorite person (or people) while listening to Van Morrison (or jazz, or whatever music puts you in the most relaxed, happy mood possible), and you’ll get very close to the next best thing.
Truth be told, we haven’t actually eaten barbecue shrimp in New Orleans—yet. But when we found this recipe and saw how easy it is to make at home, we couldn’t wait to try it. The ingredients are pretty simple: shrimp (the biggest ones you can find); olive oil; garlic; Worcestershire sauce; pepper; oregano; thyme; cayenne pepper; salt; butter; and lemon. Measure out all the ingredients before you start cooking because this dish comes together quickly and the shrimp cooks fast.
Cut the butter into pieces to be added to the sauce a few at a time.
Heat the olive oil in a heavy-bottomed saute pot over medium-high heat, then add the garlic and cook for about 30 seconds.
Next, add the Worcestershire, spices and about 1 tablespoon of water to the pot, then squeeze the juice from the lemon wedges into the pot and cook for another 30 seconds.
Stir the shrimp into the spice mixture and add the lemon wedges. The original recipe calls for unpeeled shrimp with heads and tails intact. The heads and shells add flavor. But if you’re a bit squeamish about seeing your food’s face before you eat it, and/or you’re lazy like us, “EZ-Peel” shrimp is the way to go. We almost always have a bag of raw EZ-Peel shrimp in our freezer. For this dish, thaw the shrimp before cooking, but leave the shells on. Since the shrimp have already been de-veined and the shells split, it’s
EZ easy to peel and eat the cooked shrimp.
Cook the shrimp over medium to medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, until the shrimp start to turn pink—about 2 minutes.
Add the butter a few pieces at a time, stirring it in with the shrimp to help the butter melt and create the sauce. Continue cooking until the sauce turns light brown and creamy and the shrimp are done—about 2-3 more minutes.
Serve the shrimp family-style, in a big bowl (with a separate empty bowl for shells).
Whatever you do, don’t forget the bread! As delicious as the shrimp is, the real star of this dish is the rich, tangy, peppery sauce, which practically begs to be dipped into with good crusty bread until every last drop is gone. This is the kind of dish that you think about making again, even before you’ve finished eating it. Likewise, New Orleans is a place we’ve always planned to revisit, ever since our first trip there.
- 1 lb large shrimp, shells intact
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 2-4 cloves garlic, minced
- 2.5 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
- 2 tablespoons coarsely ground black pepper
- ½ teaspoon dried oregano
- ½ teaspoon dried thyme
- ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1 lemon, cut into 4 wedges
- 1 tablespoon water
- ¾ stick of butter (6 tablespoons), cut into pieces
- Heat the oil in a heavy-bottomed saute pot over medium-high heat. Add the garlic and cook for 30 seconds. Add the Worcestershire, spices and water, then squeeze the juice from the lemon wedges into the pot, stir everything together and cook for another 30 seconds.
- Stir the shrimp into the spice mixture and add the squeezed lemon wedges. Cook the shrimp over medium to medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, until the shrimp start to turn pink—about 2 minutes.
- Add the butter a few pieces at a time, stirring it in with the shrimp to help the butter melt and create the sauce. Continue cooking until the sauce turns light brown and creamy and the shrimp are done—about 2-3 minutes.
- Serve family-style in a large bowl with a side of crusty bread.