A bag of shrimp in the freezer is a weekday cook’s best friend. If they happen to be peeled and deveined, all the better. I stock up on the 2-lb 21/25 count bags (this means that the size of the shrimp accounts for 21-25 pieces per pound, therefore the shrimp are large–not jumbo but definitely not small which cook way too fast) at Costco and rest assured in the knowledge that on any given night I can have dinner on the table in less that 30 minutes.
Shrimp are one of those seafood items that are almost always frozen–even when you buy them “fresh” at the fish counter–so they taste great despite being defrosted. In a perfect world I suppose that you’d let your shrimp defrost in the refrigerator overnight but who plans like that? I just put whatever quantity I plan to cook in a colander set in the sink and let lukewarm water run over them. Of course, this running water drives my environmentally conscious daughter crazy but with a couple of tosses, they are usually ready to go in about 3 minutes. At this point, I remove the tails (and the shells and veins if I was unlucky enough to run out of my Costco supply) and finish up whatever marinade or sauce that I started during the defrost process.
The only challenge with shrimp is resisting the temptation to overcook. They cook quickly–generally 5 minutes tops–and like any protein will continue to cook when off the heat. I tend to pull them on the early side because I find dry, rubbery shrimp to be almost as depressing as an overcooked egg yolk.
I was very impressed by the following recipe, which was the first I’ve made from the cookbook, Keepers by Kathy Brennan and Caroline Campion. The dish is in ‘keeping’ with the book’s philosophy of “tried-and-true weeknight recipes” and was bursting with flavor. I intend to work my way through the rest of this book to see if all of the recipes are as spot on because their mantra is very similar to mine at Sly Rooster: Creating Comfortable Cooks. Our shared mission is to arm people with delicious recipes that can be prepared with a little forethought and minimal effort.
I chose to serve the Roasted Orange Chipotle Shrimp over a simple grits. If you are not from the south, grits may not be in your repertoire but I encourage you to experiment. Grits is ground corn and is similar to polenta and hominy. I prefer the stone-ground variety, as opposed to instant, quick-cooking or old-fashioned. Bob’s Red Mill will be the brand you are most likely to find in your local supermarket or Whole Foods.
I am lucky enough to receive a regular delivery of grits from my dear friend Wray who hails from Roanoke, VA. I imagine that every Southern town boasts about the superiority of their grits but I am loyal to Stone-Ground White Grits from Byrd Mill (actually based in Ashland, VA). Despite the fact that, I prepare them with minimal butter and no cream, they are still rich and creamy. But if you’re not a fan of grits or don’t have any on hand, this dish could be served over mashed potatoes, rice, quinoa, couscous or even orzo, as there is enough vinaigrette to double as a sauce.
As if an easy, quick, flavorful weeknight dinner wasn’t enough, this dish is also worthy of guests and would work well if made in advance and served at room temperature. I plan on putting this one on “repeat” throughout the summer season. Enjoy!
- 1 1/2 lbs. large shrimp, peeled and deveined
- 1 Tbls olive oil, plus 2 Tbls
- salt and pepper
- 2 garlic cloves, minced, then smeared into a paste
- 1 chipotle chile in adobo sauce* (remove the seeds for a milder effect), minced, then smeared into a paste
- 2 Tbls apple cider vinegar
- 2 Tbls orange juice
- 1 tsp honey
- dash of Worcestershire sauce
- 2 scallions** (white and pale green parts only), thinly sliced on the diagonal
- Preheat the oven to 400F, with a each in the upper third position. Put the shrimp on a sheet pan lined with foil and add 1 Tbls oil, salt and pepper, tossing to coat. Spread the shrimp out in a single layer, then roast until almost cooked through, about 5-6 minutes. Let rest for a few minutes.
- Meanwhile, make the orange chipotle sauce. In a large bowl, whisk together the garlic, chipotle, vinegar, orange juice, honey, Worcestershire and the 2 remaining Tbls olive oil.
- Add the shrimp and scallions to the sauce and toss to combine. Serve.
- The remainder of the chipotles in adobo can be transferred to a container and stored in the refrigerator for up to a month or the freezer for longer.
- I cheated when I discovered that I was out of scallions by substituting fresh chives. They worked but scallions would be the better choice.
- 1 cup stone-ground grits
- 4 cups chicken broth
- 1 tsp kosher salt
- 1 Tbls butter, optional
- 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese, optional
- freshly ground black pepper and salt
- Bring 4 cups of broth, salt and butter (if using) to boil. Add grits and cook over low heat, stirring occasionally, until almost all of the liquid is absorbed, about 20-25 minutes. Stir in the cheese (if using) and remove from the heat. Stir in freshly ground black pepper and salt, to taste.
- The grits will continue to thicken and absorb the last of the liquid even off the heat.