Words, and a Recipe
I’m so excited that this forum affords me my own blog! What a unique and valuable perk!
As I continue My self-guided tour of the baking and bread world, I sometimes become frustrated with the lingo of baking. Not because I don’t understand the words. I’m a linguist at heart, and sometimes (especially when I’m writing a recipe), I can look at my musings for hours, trying to decide which word is best.
Dough rises. But do you raise it? Before you put the dough in the oven, do you proof it, or prove it (and on whom lays the burden of proof?). Can “proof” be used in any part of the fermentation cycle; is the dough proofing after every knead, during every rise?
And then there are the various kneading cycles. Is one “mixing” the dough the first time round? And kneading” the second? And “punching down” the dough sounds artsy, but it’s no more descriptive than “punching down” the dough, which, according to the latest research, is a misnomer; punching does nothing for dough, or relationships, or walls, and might be harmful to either of the three.
Last linguistic beef with baking terms. Or maybe I’m just being a whining liberal. I think we need a new term for prolonged fermentation in the fridge. These days, retarded fermentation just sounds, well, insulting. Wouldn’t “delayed fermentation,l “interrupted fermentation,” or “super-duper long fermentation” work equally well without casting aspersions on people with disabilities? Okay, maybe I’m just too sensitive to social issues.
I promised a recipe in title. This is not a bread recipe, but with a little tweaking, you could turn it into a pizza topping, so I feel vindicated in posting it.
When I was about sixteen, my family went on a road trip across America, our last great vacation together as a family. We stopped in the Big Easy for a few nights, and Dad treated us to dinner at a very posh restaurant with a long NOLA tradition. The seating was dark red velvet, the wait staff were dressed in formal clothes, and the restaurant was so dark that the waiter had to bring a flashlight so he could read the check. Then the waiter had to bring an AED. I ordered the BBQ shrimp, and I was gonna xpecting a couple of skewers of shrimp cooked on a grill. What I got was a steaming platter of heads-on shrimp doused in a sauce that was nearly black with pepper. A finger bowl was served alongside. I thought it was a dipping sauce to cut the peppery heat of the shrimp, and hilarity ensued. The bowl did have a lemon in it! I didn’t know how to cook at the time, so I didn’t really pay attention to the tastes, and I’ve never been able to duplicate that dish. But the following recipe is quite close.
I love New Orleans. The music, the architecture, the lore, and the art are unequaled almost any where in America. Did I forget something? Oh yeah, the food! Whenever I get the chance to visit New Orleans, I’m planning my menu before I get to the airport! I love seafood, literally. And there’s no better place for it than NOLA!
So here’s my version of a classic Cajun/ Creole dish. BBQ shrimp never sees a grill. The BBQ is in reference to the sauce that the shrimp are cooked in. There are enough recipes for NOLA BBQ shrimp to fill volumes! If you ask ten people in the Big Easy for their recipe, you’ll get eleven answers. Or maybe fifteen!
My rationale for sharing this recipe in a baking forum is that it can be deconstructed and made into a pizza.
CAJUN BBQ SHRIMP
Sorry I have no pics of this dish. I usually photograph all my food, but slipped up this time.
- 1/2 to 1 lb unpeeled heads-on shrimp. 1/2 lb is perfect for two. There’s no need to divide the sauce ingredients in half; you’ll just have a bit more sauce to share. The heads are important for the texture and taste of the dish. They’re also the best part of the meal; sucking the juices and seasonings out of the heads. You can use peeled, deveined frozen shrimp, but it won’t be Nawlins BBQ Shrimp!
- 2 sticks unsalted butter. Yes, that’s 1 cup of butter. You may even need more. I prefer to use clarified butter or ghee, for its higher smoke point and deeper flavor.
- 1/2 yellow or white onion, finely diced
- 2 tsp dried rosemary
- 1 tsp smoked paprika
- 1 tsp dried thyme
- 1 tsp commercial Creole seasoning,
- 8 cloves of garlic, smashed and finely minced
- 3 tbsp Worcestershire sauce. You can add more or less to taste, but the Worcestershire sauce is the main flavor. Again, if you leave it out, it’s not BBQ shrimp
- 1 large bottle of lager beer. No microbrews or dark ales. You won’t use the whole bottle. I’m sure you know what to do with the rest! You can substitute a dry white wine or dry vermouth
- 1 tbsp finely ground black pepper. Fresh ground black pepper is too coarse, and finely ground pepper will distribute the pepper flavor through the dish much better
- 1 large lemon sliced into 1/2” rounds
Preheat the oven to 300°F
Melt the butter over medium heat in a large cast iron skillet. After the butter has stopped foaming, add the opinion and cook till soft and translucent, 5 to 8 minutes.
Add the spices and stir until fragrant, 30 seconds to 1minute. Add the garlic and do the same, about 30 seconds. Do not let the garlic brown.
Add the Worcestershire sauce and about half the bottle beer, stir and bring to a simmer. Simmer until reduced by 1/4, and remove the heat. Allow to cool for 5 to 10 minutes.
Position the shrimp in a single layer in the sauce, then turn them to coat. Sprinkle the shrimp with black pepper and top with the lemon slices.
Place the skillet in the oven. After 5 minutes, turn the shrimp using tongs or a spatula. Cook for 5 to 10 minutes longer, until till the shrimp are pink and the flesh is just turning opaque. Serve over rice or with warm, crusty French or Italian bread. Don’t forget to suck on the shrimp heads, that’s the best part!
If you’d like to turn this into a pizza topping, after the shrimp has cooked, strain the sauce and peel the shrimp. Add two tablespoons of sauce back in the skillet, and add two tablespoons flour, stirring constantly until the the roux is thick and your spoon leaves a trail. Add the rest of the sauce and cook, stirring, until thick. Use the sauce for the pizza and top it with the shrimp. Laissez les bon temps rouler!