broiled pesto shrimp

Time for the every-other-wednesday-with-the-eldest-sprog-shrimp-eating institution. This one is easy. Easier than pie…but I don’t cook pie…easier than…well, it’s just really easy and will have all of your heartthrobs pounding down your door if you feed it to them.

What you need:

1 kilo uncooked, deveined shrimp

1/2 stick of butter

1/2 cup of pesto (we used cilantro pesto tonight and our measurements weren’t very specific)

1/3 cup of cooking sherry

First step is to thaw (if necessary) and peel the shrimp. Being in Ontario it’s difficult to purchase fresh, unfrozen shrimp unless you’re willing to sign over your first born for them (which, sometimes, I am) so I always, always buy frozen, uncooked shrimp with the shells still on as the shells help to seal in the oceany flavour and keep them from freezer burn and other nasty things. They thaw quickly when given a cold water bath over an hour with about three water changes in between.

Those are our crustacean friends in their bath. Sometimes (like tonight) I cheat and add a little warm water to the bath and change the water more frequently to reduce the bath time by about 30 minutes. You can tell by the bubblies in the water that warm water was added. I’m not sure what causes that but it only ever happens with warm water. I suggest using the cold water only bath, but this will do in a pinch. The trick is to use water a little warmer than body temperature, but not too warm or you’ll prematurely start the cooking process and be on your way toward fish-flavoured bubble gum. Ew. Enough about that.

Step two is the saucy bit. Preheat your oven to 500 degrees. Toss your shrimps in a single layer into a large casserole dish. Sliver your half stick of butter over them as evenly as possible. They may not all be covered and that’s okay. We’re going for tasty, not coronary. The butter will go as far as it needs to. Over that drizzle your third of a cup of cooking sherry then dap bits of pesto over all of that so far. It should look a bit like this:

Which actually looks kind of gross…but will be tasty. Honest.

As soon you’re done that step, or the oven is preheated (whichever comes last) turn the cooker dial to broil. This will cook your shrimp more evenly, and they’re going to cook quickly, so that’s important. After two minutes of broiler heat-up time, toss your little ocean fruits into the oven. You’ll need to keep an eye on them because as soon as they start (and just start – this should happen about 4 minutes after putting them in the oven) to turn pink we’ll need to give them a stir so the pestoey-sherry-buttery goodnesses all mix together.

This is too pink:

Yes, I got distracted by the telephone and wasn’t paying enough attention. But all was not lost! After the first stirring phase I simply lifted the oven rack two notches so that our saucy little shrimps received more direct heat for a shorter period of time, thus reducing the sauce more quickly and giving that slightly browned finish I like so much.

So, if you didn’t screw up (like me) then about 4 minutes after that stir they should be ready to come out of the oven. They should look like they do in the last pic at that point. If you do screw up (like me) then you’ll need to give them about 2 minutes more under the broiler.

Then it’s time to serve and there are many options when it comes to serving these. My favourites are over rice with steamed vegies or in bowls with baguette croutons and a crispy salad.


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