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Cooking

New Orleans-style shrimp

The Big Easy knows all kinds of ways to cook them.

Voodoo shrimp.

Photograph by Jim Scherer / Styling by Catrine Kelty

Voodoo shrimp.

I found two schools of thought in New Orleans on Voodoo Shrimp. One uses Southern Comfort; the other, dark beer (down there, Dixie Blackened Voodoo Lager). Having come upon Jack’s Abby Smoke & Dagger, a black lager brewed in Framingham, I’m in the beer camp, for the faint bitterness and hints of molasses and clove it brings to the creamy sauce.

Your head can spin from all the Barbecued Shrimp variations floating around. The shocker is how much the quantity of butter varies — from 1 tablespoon up to a death-defying ¾ pound. Where recipes agree is on the inclusion of Worcestershire sauce and lemon. The version here is streamlined, with lots of garlic, no roux, just a little hot sauce, and a plenty decadent 12 tablespoons of butter.

NEW ORLEANS VOODOO SHRIMP

Serves 6

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You can use toast points or rice in place of the corn bread.

2 pounds large or extra-large shrimp, shelled and deveined

1 tablespoon lemon juice

2 teaspoons hot pepper sauce

1 12-ounce bottle dark beer, preferably black lager

1½ cups heavy cream

1/3 cup Worcestershire sauce

1½ teaspoons lobster base (preferably Better Than Bouillon brand) or

1 cube shrimp bouillon

1½ teaspoons chopped fresh thyme

1½ teaspoons dried oregano, crushed

¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper

1 packed tablespoon brown sugar

Salt and black pepper

1 14.5-ounce can petite diced tomatoes, drained

3 tablespoons chopped fresh basil

6 scallions, thinly sliced (about 2/3 cup)

6 wedges corn bread, halved and toasted, if desired, for serving

In a medium bowl, toss the shrimp, lemon juice, and hot pepper sauce; cover and refrigerate until ready to use.

In a large straight-sided saute pan over medium-high heat, stir the beer, cream, Worcestershire sauce, lobster base or bouillon, thyme, oregano, cayenne, brown sugar, and ½ teaspoon each salt and black pepper to combine. Bring to a strong simmer and continue to simmer vigorously, stirring and scraping the bottom of the pan occasionally, until reduced to about 1¼ cups and very thick (about the consistency of warm honey) and glossy, about 16 minutes. Add the shrimp and tomatoes, stir to mix, return to a simmer, adjust heat to medium, and cook until shrimp are just cooked through, 3 to 5½ minutes. Stir in the basil and about half the scallions. Taste the sauce and adjust seasoning with salt and black pepper, if necessary.

If using the toasted corn-bread wedges, place the bottom halves in warmed shallow bowls, top with some of the shrimp mixture, set the top halves slightly askew over the shrimp, spoon on a little more sauce, sprinkle with the remaining scallions, and serve at once.

TIP: To make sure your Voodoo Shrimp’s sauce has a gravylike consistency, reduce the beer-cream mixture until it is glossy and very thick. Remember that the shrimp and tomatoes will add liquid.

jim scherer

TIP: To make sure your Voodoo Shrimp’s sauce has a gravylike consistency, reduce the beer-cream mixture until it is glossy and very thick. Remember that the shrimp and tomatoes will add liquid.

NEW ORLEANS-STYLE BARBECUED SHRIMP

Serves 6

Kosher salt and black pepper

1 teaspoon smoked paprika

1 teaspoon garlic powder

1 teaspoon dried thyme, crushed

½ teaspoon onion powder

¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper

1/8 teaspoon sugar

6 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce

2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice, plus

1 lemon, thinly sliced

1 tablespoon hot pepper sauce, or more, to taste

1 cup good-quality beer

2 pounds large to extra-large shrimp, shelled and deveined

2 tablespoons neutral oil

12 tablespoons unsalted butter, 10 tablespoons of it cut into ½-inch cubes

8 medium garlic cloves, minced or grated (about 2½ tablespoons)

1½ tablespoons tomato paste

Warm French bread, for serving

In a small bowl, mix ½ teaspoon salt, 2 teaspoons black pepper, smoked paprika, garlic powder, thyme, onion powder, cayenne, and sugar, and set aside. In a large measuring cup, mix the Worcestershire, lemon juice, hot pepper sauce, and beer, and set aside. In a medium bowl, toss the shrimp with 2 teaspoons of the oil. Add half the spice mixture and toss to coat the shrimp evenly.

In a very large skillet over high heat, heat 2 teaspoons oil until just beginning to smoke. Swirl the skillet to coat with oil, add half the shrimp in a single layer (do not crowd), and cook, without moving them, until the bottoms are well seared and the shrimp are about 80 percent opaque, about 1 minute 15 seconds. Stir the shrimp, cook for another 30 seconds, and transfer them to a large bowl; repeat with the remaining oil and shrimp.

Return the empty skillet to high heat, add the lemon slices in a single layer, and cook until browned, 2 to 3 minutes, turning them halfway through; add the lemon slices to the shrimp.

Off heat, allow the skillet to cool for about 3 minutes. Add the intact 2 tablespoons butter and swirl to coat the skillet. Return the skillet to the burner over medium heat, add the garlic, tomato paste, and remaining spice mixture, and cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add the Worcestershire mixture, ¾ teaspoon salt, and black pepper to taste, adjust the heat to medium-high, and bring to a strong simmer. Simmer vigorously, stirring with a wooden spoon and scraping the bottom of the pan to dissolve the fond, until slightly thickened and reduced to about 1 cup, about 3½ minutes. Adjust the heat to medium-low, add the cubed butter aTo make sure your Voodoo Shrimp’s sauce has a gravylike consistency, reduce the beer-cream mixture until it is glossy and very thick. Remember that the shrimp and tomatoes will add liquid. few pieces at a time, stirring constantly to incorporate it into the sauce before adding more. Taste the sauce and adjust the seasoning with additional salt and black pepper, if necessary. Return the shrimp and lemon slices to the skillet and cook, stirring to coat the shrimp with sauce, until heated through, about 2 minutes (do not allow sauce to boil). Serve at once with French bread.

SHRIMP CREOLE

Serves 6

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

1 large onion, finely chopped

2 medium celery ribs, finely chopped

½ medium red bell pepper, finely chopped

Salt and black pepper

1 28-ounce can diced or petite-diced tomatoes

2 tablespoons tomato paste

2 bay leaves

1 teaspoon fennel seeds, lightly toasted, cooled, and crushed

3 garlic cloves, minced (scant 1 tablespoon)

1 teaspoon minced fresh thyme

1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper

2 cups shrimp, lobster, or seafood stock

1 teaspoon sugar

2 pounds large to extra-large shrimp, shelled and deveined

1/3 cup chopped fresh parsley

Hot cooked white rice, for serving

In a large straight-sided saute pan over medium-high heat, heat the oil until shimmering. Add the onion, celery, bell pepper, and 1 teaspoon salt, and cook, stirring, until vegetables are softened and beginning to darken, about 9 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a strainer set over a medium bowl, drain the tomatoes, stirring (but not pressing) them with a spoon to extract as much liquid as possible; discard or reserve the liquid for another use. Add the tomatoes, tomato paste, bay leaves, and crushed fennel seeds to the vegetables, and cook, stirring and scraping the bottom of the pan occasionally, until tomatoes appear drier and are just starting to darken, about 11 minutes longer. Add the garlic, thyme, and cayenne, and continue to cook and stir until fragrant, about 45 seconds. Add the stock and sugar, bring to a strong simmer, and continue to simmer vigorously, stirring and scraping the bottom of the pan occasionally, until saucy and thickened, about 12 minutes longer. Add the shrimp, stir to mix, return to a simmer, adjust heat to medium, and cook until shrimp are just cooked through, 3 to 5½ minutes. Remove the bay leaves and stir in about half the parsley. Taste the sauce and adjust seasoning with salt, if necessary, and black pepper to taste. In warmed shallow soup plates, mound some rice, top and surround the rice with some shrimp and sauce, sprinkle with remaining parsley, and serve at once.

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