Tuesday, January 6, 2015

New Orleans-Style Barbecue Shrimp

Sometimes I dream about this dish. Seriously! I’ll be going through life as normal when, all of the sudden, the craving strikes and won’t go away until it’s satisfied.

I've never been to New Orleans, but I enjoy the food inspired by that jubilant city. Jambalaya, gumbo, beignets…I love them all. Someday I’ll make a pilgrimage there.

(City's images are courtesy of the New Orleans Convention and Visitors Bureau.) 

New Orleans food writer Tom Fitzmorris once told me, “Two hundred New Orleans cooks make gumbo with two hundred different recipes, but they will all taste like gumbo. Outside of New Orleans, it doesn't taste like gumbo, even if you use the exact same ingredients. I don’t know why.”

I want to find out if this phenomenon is true.

I got this Barbecue Shrimp recipe from Chef Sean Burt of Tooky Mills Pub in Hillsborough, New Hampshire. He puts a lot of New Orleans-inspired dishes on his menu due to his many trips to the city’s annual jazz festival.

The name Barbecue Shrimp is misleading since the recipe does not use a smoker, grill or barbecue sauce. (No, I don’t know where the name came from, but an internet search shows it’s because of the sauce’s color.)

Trust me; the sauce for this dish is so amazing you will want to swim in it, which explains why bread is served alongside for dipping purposes. I mix up a batch of Emeril Lagasse’s Creole seasoning mix for the recipe, but with less cayenne pepper.

The huge amount of butter is what makes this sauce so amazing. The key to keeping the sauce smooth is to cut the butter into chunks, and then swirl a few chunks at a time into the sauce until blended. However, don’t worry if the sauce breaks. (Happens to me from time to time.) It will still taste delicious.

New Orleans-Style Barbecue Shrimp
Serves 4

2 to 3 tablespoons olive oil
32 extra-large (16-20) shrimp, peeled and deveined
1 1/3 cups chicken stock
1/3 cup fresh lemon juice
1/3 cup of your favorite Creole spice mix, or more to taste
12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into 12 pieces and chilled
A loaf of French bread
Heat a large sauté pan over medium heat until hot. Add olive oil. When oil is hot, add the shrimp and cook until almost done, about 30 seconds to 1 minute per side.
Add the chicken stock and lemon juice to the pan. Turn off the heat. Add the spice mix (more or less depending on your taste.) Let pan sit while stirring for about 30 seconds.
Once pan cools slightly, add the cold butter, a few pieces at a time. (If the pan is too hot, the butter will break and not make a smooth sauce.) Swirl the pan until the butter melts, then add a few more butter pieces, and repeat until all the butter combines to create a creamy, spicy lemon sauce.
Place the shrimp in individual bowls and pour the sauce on top. Serve with French bread to sop-up any leftover sauce.  

Almost Emeril Lagasse’s Creole Spice Mix

Makes 2/3 cup

2 1/2 tablespoons paprika
2 tablespoons salt
2 tablespoons garlic powder
1 tablespoon black pepper
1 tablespoon onion powder
1 tablespoon dried oregano
1 tablespoon dried thyme
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper, or more to taste

Place all of the ingredients into a bowl and stir to combine will. Store in an air-tight container.


  1. I've been to NO once and went wild over the food. And the city. I also made BBQ shrimp when I returned and loved it. I must try this version. Wonder if there's 200 recipes for BBQ shrimp? Happy New Year!

  2. I spent three days eating in New Orleans, it's just amazing! This looks like a great way to experience a little Nola at home!