Steven Raichlen's Barbecue! Bible


NOLA Smoked Shrimp

Recipe by Steven Raichlen

Photo credit: Richard Dallett


  • Yield: Makes 2 pounds, enough to serve 6 to 8 as a starter, 4 as a main course
  • Method: Hot-smoking
  • Equipment: Mesh grilling grates or grill baskets; 10-inch cast-iron skillet; hardwood of your choice (Louisianans like pecan; enough for 45 minutes of smoking)
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For the shrimp:

  • 2 pounds peeled, deveined shrimp (choose the size you prefer; I like U-12s, which means there are 15 to a pound)
  • 3 tablespoons Cajun seasoning (your favorite) or Old Bay seasoning
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil

For the barbecue sauce:

  • 6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) butter
  • 4 scallions, trimmed, white and green parts thinly sliced crosswise (keep the white and green parts separate)
  • 1/4 cup bourbon
  • 1/4 cup beer (use your favorite)
  • 3 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar, or to taste
  • 1/3 cup heavy (whipping) cream
  • 1 tablespoon Louisiana-style hot sauce (use your favorite), or to taste
  • Coarse salt (kosher or sea) and freshly ground black pepper

Step 1: Rinse the shrimp, drain, and blot dry. Place in a large bowl, sprinkle with Cajun seasoning, and stir to mix. Stir in the olive oil.

Step 2: Set up your smoker according to the manufacturer’s instructions and preheat to 250ºF. Add the wood as specified by the manufacturer.

Step 3: Lightly oil a mesh grilling grate or grill basket. Arrange the shrimp in a single layer and place in the smoker. Smoke the shrimp until firm and bronzed with smoke, 30 to 45 minutes.

Step 4: Meanwhile, make the sauce: Melt 3 tablespoons of the butter in a skillet over medium-high heat. Set aside 2 tablespoons of the scallion greens, then add the remaining scallions to the skillet and sauté, stirring well with a wooden spoon, until just beginning to brown, 3 minutes. Add the bourbon and beer and boil until reduced by half. Add the barbecue sauce, Worcestershire, lemon juice, and brown sugar, and boil for 1 minute. Add the cream, the remaining 3 tablespoons of butter, and the hot sauce and boil until thick and richly flavored, 5 minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste and more sugar if a sweeter sauce is desired; the sauce should be highly seasoned.

Step 5: Transfer the smoked shrimp from the smoker to the pan with the barbecue sauce. Sprinkle with the reserved scallion greens.

Tips:

I call for peeled deveined shrimp, which are easier to eat (and more socially acceptable) than my real preference: shrimp with heads and shells intact. (If using these, you’ll need about 2 1/2 pounds.) To devein shell-on shrimp, make a slit down the back of the shell with kitchen shears, then pull and scrape out the vein with the tine of a fork or the point of a bamboo skewer.