Saturday, January 28, 2012

Roasted Shrimp

There aren't many ingredients that don't respond well to roasting in the oven.  After watching Ina Garten roast a number of items, including shrimp, I was sold.  It's one of the best ways to maintain the rich, natural flavors of food and at the same time take it to new heights.  Shrimp is a perfect example of this technique transforming an item.  Typically poached, these shrimp trade the water bath for a light shower of olive oil, salt and pepper.  After a brief encounter with a very hot oven they are pink, tender and ready to be enjoyed.  A classic hors d'oeuvre never tasted so good!

I almost always have shrimp in my freezer.  I can pull out however many I need on a given night, defrost them under cold, running water, and get cooking.  I prefer to buy the unpeeled, raw, 12-15 count shrimp.  The count number indicates how many are in a pound.  Obviously the smaller the count, the larger the shrimp.  For a recipe where shrimp is going to be the sole star, unaccompanied, it's important to spend an extra couple of dollars for the big boys.  You are likely to find them at the fish counter already peeled and deveined as well.  Go for it if you'd like, as it saves a bit of time and work, but know that they cost more - you are paying them to do the work for you.  Not that I have a problem with that!  To begin this recipe, preheat the oven to 400 degrees and arrange your shrimp on a plate.

Peeling and deveining shrimp is really easy, just a little messy and time consuming, but the pace will pick up as you go.  I begin at the head of the shrimp and pull from the bottom, taking the legs and peeling them up and over.  Continue down the shrimp, removing all of the legs and every shell segment except for the last one.  We want to leave the tails on to act as little handles when they are served.

Now for the deveining.  Warning - this is a little gross.  But once you see how gross it is you will be SO glad you took the time to do it!  I find a pairing knife (the smallest one in your knife set) works best for this process.  Begin at the head of the shrimp and place the knife in the middle at the top, making a small incision (do not cut through the whole shrimp).

Slide the knife down the back of the shrimp to just before the tail.  You will be able to see inside the back of the shrimp and the dark nasty stuff we are going to remove.

EWW!!!!!!!!  Yeah, I know, gross picture, but it just takes a second to pull that off and throw it in the trash where it belongs.

Know that it is ok to eat shrimp that haven't been deveined.  But don't these guys look so much fresher and prettier now that they're been all cleaned up?  They looked ready for their close-up to me.

Drizzle two tbs olive oil over the shrimp, along with one tsp of kosher salt, and one tsp fresh ground black pepper.  Toss to combine.

Lay the shrimp out in a single layer on a baking sheet.  Roast for 8 minutes until they are pink and tender.

Look how pretty they are!  I just love how vibrant their color is after they've been roasted.  Remove to a platter and serve with cocktail sauce.  Easy, sophisticated and delicious.  I can't ask for much more than that!

Continue reading for the ingredient list and step-by-step directions:

Makes 12-15 Shrimp

  • one lb shrimp, 12-15 count, raw with the shells
  • two tbs olive oil
  • one tsp kosher salt
  • one tsp freshly ground black pepper
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
Peel and devein all of the shrimp.  Toss with the olive oil, salt and pepper.  Lay the shrimp out in a single layer on a baking sheet.  Roast for 8 minutes until they are pink and tender.  Serve with cocktail sauce.

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