It has been 10 years since Hurricane Katrina flooded 80 percent of New Orleans with mandatory evacuation of the entire city. So many memories. A visit to the city shows that it has rebounded — the culture, energy, music and restaurants have returned. If there is a single food that I identify with New Orleans, it might be barbecue shrimp. I especially like Chef Emeril Lagasse’s version.
Hurricane Katrina’s Impact
We live 60 miles northwest of New Orleans and were spared the direct hit of the storm. But everyone here in Louisiana was impacted by the hurricane in some way. My son’s high school took in a large flux of evacuated students, my husband volunteered daily at a make-shift shelter in our place of worship, I volunteered to help with people with medical needs being evacuated from the Superdome. A friend made an emergency trip back into the city to rescue his mother’s cats from their flooded home–but that’s another story.
Emeril Lagasse — Celebrity chef and restauranteer
Emeril Lagasse is a successful New Orleans chef and television personality who has flourished both before and after the storm. His first job was in 1982; Lagasse succeeded Paul Prudhomme as executive chef of Commander’s Palace, an upscale New Orleans restaurant. From there he has opened restaurants including Emeril’s Restaurant, NOLA and Emeril’s Delmonico in New Orleans. He has authored books, appeared on numerous television cooking-related shows and sponsored many humanitarian causes. In March of 2015, Lagasse celebrated the 25th year of the opening of his first restaurant in New Orleans, Emeril’s New Orleans, with special menus, events and commemorative dinners for family, friends and customers.
Baton Rouge Advocate food writer, Cheramie Sonnier, was on hand for the media lunch and covered the event. She published “Emeril’s New Orleans Barbecue Shrimp” in the food section of the paper. (//theadvocate.com/news/acadiana/11957274-123/emerils-new-orleans-barbecue-shrimp) The recipe is published here with permission from Emeril Lagasse’s organization.
New Orleans Style-Barbecue Shrimp
Southern Louisiana benefits from fresh shrimp, seafood and fish from the Gulf of Mexico and surrounding marshes and swamps. Barbecue shrimp, when made with fresh shrimp, is succulent, juicy and flavorful. It is not a typical barbecue dish — an out-of-town guest once asked me, “Where’s the barbecue sauce?” This recipe consists of broiled shrimp loaded with butter, Worcestershire sauce, garlic, lemon and parsley. And a typical recipe contain lots and lots of butter. This sauce is used as a dipping sauce for French bread.
My first taste of Barbecue Shrimp at Kolb’s Restaurant, a German restaurant on St. Charles Street which opened in 1899 and closed several years ago. The barbecue shrimp came with the shells still on and the shrimp were placed in a bowl filled with the basting sauce. A bib was provided for you to wear, since peeling the shrimp can be messy and rather daunting. It was a fun meal; we felt like we’d been transported back in time in this classic restaurant with old-fashioned decorations and then presented with huge shrimp still with the shells on!
Emeril’s New Orleans Barbecue Shrimp
In New Orleans, a number of classic restaurants have closed their doors, especially after Hurricane Katrina. However, Emeril Lagasse is going strong. He keeps classic foods, too, but his presentations are trendy, modern and appealing. Fine dining at it’s best.
Lagassse’s recipe for Barbecue Shrimp takes a twist on the traditional recipe — which I like. This dish was on his flagstaff restaurant menu when it opened and Lagasse states, “It will never leave the menu”. Lagasse did not want his customers dealing with the shrimp shells at the table, so he peels the shrimp first — except the tails — and then uses the shells to make a flavorful sauce to serve with the shrimp. The quantity of butter is also reduced — making it a more healthy presentation — which I like. So the end result is that you get the flavor of the shrimp; but not all of the inconvenience or high calories.
How to Prepare Emeril’s Barbecue Shrimp
After fish and seafood are harvested, it can only be maintained–not improved. And seafood is very perishable; so blast frozen seafood from a grocery store isn’t a bad idea. However, it is difficult to find frozen shrimp in the shell. In southern Louisiana, vendors by the side of the road sell fresh shrimp and some markets sell iced, fresh shrimp. I made several trials of this recipe using different sizes of shrimp from several local sources. I like smaller 24 count shrimp the best — jumbo shrimp are difficult to saute to perfection.
Here are the ingredients for Emeril’s Barbecue Shrimp recipe.The shrimp are peeled leaving the tails on. (My husband did this part wishing he had a shrimp peeler which helps remove the shell and gritty vein running the length of the shrimp.) Here are the peeled shrimp which are seasoned with a Cajun-style seasoning and pepper.The peels including heads are added to water and simmered on the stove to make a seasoned sauce along with Worcestershire sauce, lemons, dry white wine, bay leaves, salt with onion and garlic sauteed in some olive oil.
When the volume is reduced and strained, the result is a thick, brown sauce.Then, the shrimp are sauteed in some olive oil over medium heat just long enough to turn pink. Over cooked shrimp are tough and tasteless.
Add the sauce, a little butter and cook a few more minutes longer so the sauce blends with the shrimp. At his point Emeril’s recipe calls for heavy cream to be added. I omitted the cream in several of my versions and liked it just as well. Cream is not part of a traditional recipe and it adds to the calories and cholesterol.
I tried serving the shrimp over rice, but discovered to my dismay that the rice soaked up the shrimp sauce. The next time, I’ll omit the rice. (Actually, rice is not traditionally served with this recipe anyway–what was I thinking?)
If you find some fresh shrimp in the shell, remember this recipe. Especially, if you visit the new, revitalized post-Katrina New Orleans city, search out barbecue shrimp. Enjoy!
Emeril serves the Barbecue Shrimp with Traditional Southern Biscuits–a recipe is on his internet site (emerils.com). French bread also makes a fine accompaniment as does grits.
Emeril's New Orleans Barbecue Shrimp
- 3 pounds large Gulf shrimp, in their shells
- 2 Tbsp. Emeril’s Essence or Creole Seasoning, divided
- Cracked black pepper
- 2 Tbsp olive oil, divided
- 1/4 cup chopped onions
- 2 Tbsp minced garlic
- 3 bay leaves
- 3 lemons peeled and sectioned
- 2 cups water
- 1/2 cup Worchestershire sauce
- 1/4 cup dry white wine
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 2 cups heavy cream
- 2 Tbsp butter
- Traditional Southern Biscuits (see Web site emerils.com)
- 1 Tbsp chopped chives
Instructions and Steps:
- Peel the shrimp, leaving only their tails attched. Reserve the shells and set aside. Sprinkle the shrimp with 1 tablespoon Creole seasoning and fresh cracked black pepper. Use your hands to coat the shrimp with the seasonings. Refrigerate the shrimp while you make the sauce base.
- Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in a large pot over high heat. When the oil is hot, add the onions and garlic and saute for 1 minute. Add the reserved shrimp shells, remaining Creole seasoning, the bay leaves, lemons, water, Worcestershire sauce, wine, salt and black pepper. Stir well and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for 30 minutes. Remove from the heat, allow to cool for about 15 minutes. Strain into a small saucepan.
- There should be about 1 1/2 cups. Place over high heat, bring to a boil, and cook until thick, syrupy, and dark brown, for about 15 minutes. Makes about 4 to 5 tablespoons of barbecue sauce base. Heat the remaining 1 tablespoon of oil in a large skillet over high heat. When the oil is not, add the seasoned shrimp and saute them, occasionally shaking the skillet, for 2 minutes. Add the cream and all of the barbecue base.
- Stir and simmer for 3 minutes. Remove the shrimp to a warm platter with tongs and whisk the butter into the sauce. Remove from the heat. Mound the shrimp in the center of a platter. Spoon the sauce over the shrimp and around the plate. Arrange the biscuits around the shrimp. Garnish with chopped chives.
Used with permission from Charlotte Martory, Emerils Lagasse’s culinary Homebase. Recipe at //emerils.com/124358/emeril%E2%80%99s-new-orleans-barbecue-shrimp