Friday, May 6, 2011

Baked Shrimp

I get off work at five o'clock which means I won't be home until at least 5:30 or, if I do some quick errands, around six. What to do for dinner? Lately, it's been shrimp. At around seven bucks a pound, a half-pound will give me a dozen--not a bad dinner for only $3.50. Add an avocado or fresh broccoli and voila! A dinner fit for a king.

Snazzy appetizer? Dinner? You choose. Either way,
you can't go wrong!

Adapted from a Jacques Pepin recipe, this is also a knockout appetizer. And it can be prepared ahead of time, refrigerated, then baked in no time.

Unlike a shrimp scampi, it's not swimming in butter. Feel free to play around with different herbs. On one occasion I used half fresh chives with the green onions. On another, a bit of chopped rosemary. Sometimes I add several good shakes of Old Bay's. Or a light dust of Cayenne. If you like things spicy, I could see a bit of finely diced jalapeno pepper. I also add a bit of grated Parmesan to the bread-crumb topping. But one thing is certain: don't skimp on the garlic! And I always add a bit of grated lemon zest.

Having said that, my new favorite way is to add one tablespoon dried 'fines herbes' with a bit of dried dill. (Click here for info about how to make fines herbes: Kitchen Bounty: Fines Herbes--OR use heaping teaspoon each of the following dried herbs: chervil, parsley, chives and tarragon.)

(Serves 2 as a main course or 4-6 as an appetizer)
  • 1/2 pound raw shrimp, peeled and deveined (about 12) 26-30 size
  • 2 tablespoons chopped green onions (see "notes" at end of post)
  • 1/4 cup chopped mushrooms
  • 1 teaspoon finely-chopped or pressed garlic (I use 2-3 teaspoons)
  • Several grates of fresh lemon zest (optional)
  • 2 tablespoons melted butter mixed with 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • Salt, pepper, and/or Old Bay's Seasoning or seasonings of your choice--to taste
  • 1/2 cup fresh bread crumbs or Panko break crumbs (not dried!)*
  • 1 tablespoon melted butter and/or oil
  • 1/4 cup grated fresh Parmesan cheese (optional)
  • 2 tablespoons dry, white wine

In a small bowl, toss the shrimp with the onions, mushrooms, fresh herbs if using or  fines herbes (recommended) garlic, and powdered seasonings of your choice. Add the two tablespoons melted butter and one tablespoon olive oil. Mix well.

Spread in a shallow pan that is large enough so the shrimp form a single layer. I use an 8 x 8 pyrex dish. I've used a pie plate but don't recommend it since the juices congeal around the sloped edges and don't cook with the shrimp.

Mix the Parmesan with the bread crumbs. Add just enough melted butter and/or oil to coat them and still leave "fluffy." Sprinkle over the shrimp. Sprinkle white wine over all, if using.

Bake in a 425-degree oven (F) for about 15 minutes. Cool a bit and serve with lemon wedges.

*I'm not an advocate of dried bread crumbs. It's a cinch to make fresh in the food processor and even easier to buy Panko-style bread crumbs--both are light and fluffy, absorb juices well, and add a crispness without being dried and grainy like the traditional dried bread crumbs. If you live in a country where green onions are not readily available, I'd suggest one tablespoon of chopped shallots.

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