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[Photograph: Kate Williams]

First things first, let's get this straight: barbecue shrimp is not barbecue in the low-heat, wood-smoked, or whole-hog sense of the term. Barbecue shrimp requires only quick stove-top cooking with no grill in sight. But what it does have in common with barbecue is the spicy, saucy mess than ensues when sitting down to a big bowl of the stuff.

The version in Nathalie Dupree and Cynthia Graubart's Mastering the Art of Southern Cooking is a fine example of the New Orleans delicacy. Large, head-on shrimp are quickly sauteed in garlic and rosemary-infused oil before being doused (seriously, doused) in hot sauce, Worcestershire, lemon juice, beer, and more butter than you'll think can fit in the pan. But it does melt its way into the sauce and plays an important role in taming the heat. Also, butter just makes everything taste better, right?

Why I picked this recipe: Shrimp, butter, and hot sauce. Can't go wrong.

What worked: Spicy and buttery with whiffs of the sea, this sauce is reminiscent of good ol' buffalo wings sauce. But the addition of Creole spices, a whole head of garlic, and fresh herbs takes this finger-licking sauce to a whole 'nother level.

What didn't: No problems here.

Suggested tweaks: While this recipe works best with large, head-on shrimp, you can still make it with smaller, headless shrimp if that's what you can get. Keep the shell on and cook the shrimp a little less than the time directed.

As always with our Cook the Book feature, we have five (5) copies of Mastering the Art of Southern Cooking to give away this week.

About the author: Kate Williams is a freelance writer and personal chef living in Berkeley, CA. She is a contributor to The Oxford American and Berkeleyside NOSH, and she blogs at cookingwolves.wordpress.com.

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