Tag Archives: shrimp

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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Jambalaya

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Jambalaya has always been a bit of a mystery to me. Never having lived in Africa or Louisianna, my first experience with it was in a Toronto Cajun-style restaurant as a side dish. I later got to enjoy another, Canadianized version of it in its ‘red’ form, then watched Emeril Lagasse make it on TV. A local Cajun inspired restaurant serves the brown type as a side which is distinctly different than the version I tried at an international potluck…and so on and so forth.

Though I’ve never had it in either of its ‘true’ forms, I’ve always felt that I had a good feel for what jambalaya is all about and how to make it better than the specimens I’d been exposed to. So, as is wont to happen, I made several attempts at creating this mysterious dish, going by nose, until I made it what I want it to be. Luckily a friend’s father (who ended up in Canadia as a draft dodger from the deep south) happily assisted me in fine-tuning (not to be confused with ‘authenticating’) my bastardised version while cursing my name as an appropriatrix of his culture all the way.

Here is the recipe in its current manifestation. Don’t be intimidated by all of the writing, it actually goes together in about an hour but I tend to reserve it for lazy sundays or those evenings when I feel like parking myself in the kitchen with a book:

Ingredients:
1tsp. cumin seeds.
1tsp. coriander seeds.
2tbsp. olive oil.
1 large cooking onion.
1/2 bulb of crushed garlic, divided.
1lb. chorizo or andouille sausages (these are sometimes hard to come by in our small city so I often subsitute Italian sausages for them)
1/2 lb. mushrooms of your choice (I don’t recommend anything too fancy dancy as they’ll need to withstand some abuse of flavour.)
2 pints beer of your choice (lots of things will work in this instance but fruitier stuff is probably not a good match.)
3-4 chipotles.
1lb. uncooked shrimp of your choice.
2 cans of diced tomatoes.
2 roughly chopped red bell peppers.
1tbsp. Thyme leaves.
2tsp. Oregano leaves.

Instructions:
1. Heat a large pot over medium heat for about 5 minutes then toss in the crushed cumin and coriander. Continue to heat until your kitchen reeks of warmed spices. I gauge this by the day I was heating said spices and my brother-in-law came to the kitchen door but would not come in because of the stink…if your spices are smelly enough to drive family away that’s the time to add the olive oil.

2. Add the olive oil and about two seconds later add the onions and half of the garlic. Saute until translucent.

3. Add the sausage.

4. Pay attention. The next steps are not for the faint of heart. 2 pints of beer is sacrificed to the mighty jambalaya gods to bring good ju-ju to this dish. At this point you’ll need to cook the sausages over high heat until you get that brown stuff which sticks to the bottom of the pot. Keep it up high and add beer as needed to lift the brown stuff from the bottom of the pot – not too much at once, though. You want this to reduce to almost no liquid between beer additions. Continue heating and reducing and adding beer until the beer is gone.

5. Turn the heat down to medium and add the mushrooms and chipotles. Simmer about 5 minutes

6. Add the diced tomatoes.

7. Let simmer for at least 20 mins over med-high heat (or as long as you desire over a lower heat, adding water or more beer as your little heart desires – I’ve been known to let this brew over a lower heat and a few days; turning the heat off during sleepy times and starting it back up again in the morning – this leads to a distinctly different-tasting dish.)

8. Turn up the heat and bring to a boil Add herbs, peeled shrimps and the rest of the crushed garlic and allow to boil for 10 minutes.

I like to serve my jambalaya in a bowl over brown rice with a sprinkle of chopped, fresh cilantro. My jambalaya is one of the yummiest things I eat.

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