Barbecued shrimp is a real treat. I think they are the perfect appetizer for parties and everyone loves them! They are quick to prepare and cook in only a couple of minutes so dinner can be on the table in under 30 minutes. They are versatile and can be prepared in a wide variety of ways. Steamed, grilled, sautéed, or deep-fried, I love them any way I can get them! The French-speaking Acadians from Canada, deported by the ruling British, traveled south until they reached the mouth of the Mississippi river and settled in current day Louisiana. They applied their French cooking techniques to local foods such as rice and crawfish, creating a new cuisine. Instead of their traditional blend of diced onion, celery, and carrot used to add flavor to most dishes, they combined bell pepper, onion, and celery to create what is known as the holy trinity of Creole and Cajun cooking. The influences of African, Spanish, and Native American cuisines are also evident, especially with the use of smoked meats.
Andouille (ahn-doo-ee) sausage is a perfect example of a Cajun-style smoked meat. A pork sausage seasoned with peppers and garlic, it is usually smoked for hours over pecan wood and sugar cane, giving it a unique flavor. Depending on the producer, it can range from mildly spicy to screaming hot. Always taste it before seasoning the rest of your meal to see how spicy it is. When adding it to a dish, I like to keep my seasoning mix fairly mild and let the Andouille provide most of the heat. Cajun cuisine is spicy and full of flavor. The spices can transform an unremarkable meal. If you’ve gotten in a rut and need a kick-start, try adding some Cajun seasoning to your cooking. Your family will thank you!
Jane’s Tips and Hints:
Leaving the shells on helps protect them from the heat and gives you more succulent shrimp. Your guests will have to use their fingers to peel the cooked shrimp, so make sure you have lots of napkins on hand! You can serve these shrimp over rice, tuck them into tacos, serve with a tossed salad, or toss with hot pasta! If you have a charcoal grill, do yourself and the environment a favor and stop using lighter fluid. If you use a charcoal chimney you absolutely don’t need it and your food will taste much cleaner.
Kitchen Skill: Deveining Shrimp
Deveining shrimp is one step that you shouldn’t skip. The “vein” is actually the intestinal tract and removing it improves the flavor of the shrimp. With a very sharp knife gently slice down the rounded side of the shrimp. Pull the two sides apart and pull out the vein. Working under running water or in a bowl of water helps.
- 1 tbsp paprika
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 2 tsp Old Bay seasoning
- 1/4 tsp garlic powder
- 1/2 tsp onion powder
- 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
- 1 tsp dried thyme leaves
- Pinch sugar
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 1-1/2 lb uncooked medium shrimp, deveined, shells left on
- 1 to 2 lb Andouille sausages, sliced into 1-inch rings
- Cooked rice, for serving, optional
- Build a medium fire on one side of a charcoal grill. If using a gas grill, heat one side to medium-high. Line a baking sheet with foil.
- In a small bowl, combine paprika, salt, Old Bay, garlic, onion, cayenne, thyme, and sugar. Stir until evening mixed. Stir in oil to make a paste.
- Place cleaned shrimp in a medium bowl. With your hands, rub the spice paste all over the shrimp, getting some under the shells if possible. Set shrimp in refrigerator for 15 to 20 minutes. Carefully wash your hands to remove all the pepper. If you don’t and you rub your eyes, you’ll be sorry!
- Preferably using flat metal skewers (which don’t burn and keep the food from spinning), thread 3 shrimp on each skewer, piercing through the tail and the body so that they are in a crescent shape, alternating with pieces of Andouille. Make sure you leave space between them so they cook evenly. Place skewers on the prepared baking sheet.
- Oil the grill with a paper towel (use tongs). Place skewers over hot fire and cook for 1 to 2 minutes. Turn each one over and move it to the cool side of the grill. Cook for another 1 to 2 minutes or until shrimp turn pink and are firm to the touch. Err on the side of removing them slightly before they are done. The residual heat will finish cooking them.
- Remove the dirty foil from the baking sheet so you are placing the cooked shrimp on a clean surface. I like to serve them laid across a mound of rice to catch all the spicy juices. Sort of a mock Jambalaya. Serve immediately. Dig in and enjoy!