"LIVE! LIVE! LIVE! Life's a banquet, and most poor suckers are starving to death"
attributed to Mame Dennis

Saturday, September 04, 2010

Shrimp three ways, with Chardonnay

For weeks, Pat has been bugging me to cook the shrimp he knew were in the freezer. A Cuban-style Mojo preparation is my go-to for shrimp, but I wanted to do something different. Feeling uninspired, I turned to Tastespotting, as I so often do. I also consulted with my wine-and-food-loving work chums at Lamoreaux Landing Wine Cellars. I came away with so many tempting ideas I couldn't narrow it down to one choice. This, and my never wanting to make things easy for myself, is how shrimp three ways was born. Shrimp cook quickly, so most of the recipes were pretty fast and simple. Certain themes and ingredients came up again and again on my recipe search, so I started to break them down into categories. Balance is the key, and I wanted to include a variety of flavors and cooking techniques. Tied together with a pan of Jiffy cornbread (Pat's favorite) and a bottle of Lamoreaux's fabulous Chardonnay, it was the perfect way to belatedly celebrate our second anniversary together.

The rich flavors in this buttery, beer-boiled preparation highlighted the sweetness of the shrimp. It's a great, roll-up-your-sleeves-and-get-your-hands-in-there kind of dish-- it feels primal, which makes me enjoy the food in a different way. Keep an eye on the timing, though, or the shrimp will get rubbery. Next time I will finish with a dusting of Old Bay.

The classic Spanish tapa "Gambas al ajillo" was a delicious way to represent the natural affinity shrimp has with garlic. The only drawback to this simple recipe is that it had to be prepared a la minute. Chopped parsley adds a nice burst of color and a green freshness that contrasts with the sweet, earthy garlic flavors.

Bacon-wrapped shrimp sounded like a great idea, which is why I chose this recipe. However, in my kitchen frenzy the bacon burnt to a crisp (I probably should have used thicker bacon.) I went ahead with the marinade, and I was so glad I did. It had a great combination of spices, which I think would work well in many applications, including chicken. I substituted pimenton de la vera for half the paprika in this recipe, which added a smokiness that almost made up for the missing bacon. Grilling the shrimp definitely produced the best texture for my taste-- not to mention the easiest cooking method.

The variations are endless. These recipes are definitely keepers, but I know I'll be on the look out for other shrimp recipes to mix it up next time. There was no clear favorite. Each of these dishes easily stands on its own and, when served over rice, provided great leftovers for lunch the next day.

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