Several years ago, during summer break, my high school band traveled to Dallas to march in a downtown civic parade. Afterward, for a little fun, we boarded our rickety bus and made a severe detour to visit New Orleans on our way back home to Kentucky. Trudging through the intense heat and thick humidity, we meandered around the streets of New Orleans before taking in the historic above ground graveyard and vaulted tombs of the St. Louis Cemetery. Row after row, we lost ourselves amid the sun-bleached tombs, rusty wrought iron gates, and elegant decay of the city of the dead. When our band of merry wanderers had soaked in enough of the fun, we made our way to the French Quarter, a few blocks away, for lunch. With promises of gumbo, barbecued shrimp, and po' boys, we were more than happy to depart the land of the departed.
On our way to the French Quarter, I guess I lolly-gagged a bit and fell behind most of the group. While trying my best to catch up with my people, I passed a dimly lit hole-the-wall brick bar. I stopped dead in my tracks and froze with adolescent awe when I saw her from the dank doorway. My stripper. There she was, dancing on a small round tabletop wearing nothing but 5 inch black stilettos and a red heart-shaped fun fir merckin. Squirming, squatting, splaying, her undulating wet flesh rippled to the guttural thump of a relentless pounding base. Transfixed by her voluptuous wonder, my blossoming gayness briefly betrayed me. I could not stop watching. When our eyes finally met, she winked and slowly brushed back her hair. Loosening her plumped puckered lips into a gentle smile, my merckin Valentine shot me a private lapless lap dance from across the dingy room through the cheerless wake of smell and smoke. Framed by the doorway, between inside and outside, my eager backlit silhouette absorbed every pulsing thump of my siren's song.
Thump. In a flash, a forceful tight-fisted grip yanked me from the doorway. Within seconds, I'd rejoined my band for a carefree lunch. Secrets. With doe-eyed innocence, I coyly sucked down a steaming hot platter of sticky butter-drenched barbecued shrimp.
When Mardi Gras rolls around, I always embrace my merckin muse. Let the good times roll.
Yep, it's that time of year. Mardi Gras. I've prepared tons of food for thousands of Mardi Gras revelers over the past several years. In doing so, I've left no stone unturned prepping and cooking for all kinds of Fat Tuesday food frenzies. That said, I kept one little gem to myself, New Orleans Barbecued Shrimp. I wasn't being selfish, I was being practical. There's not enough butter in North America to prepare enough New Orleans Barbecued Shrimp to feed hundreds and hundreds of people in one short drunken night.
New Orleans Barbecued Shrimp.
A simple little lap dance.
I smacked a large saute pan over a high flame and dropped 1/4 pound of sliced unsalted butter into the pan. When the butter started to sizzle, I added 2 tablespoons minced garlic, 1/4 cup worcestershire sauce, a juiced lemon, several lemon slices, 1/4 cup white wine, 2 bay leaves, 3 tablespoons sweet paprika, 1 tablespoon smoked paprika, 1 tablespoon creole seasoning, 1 heaping teaspoon cayenne pepper, kosher salt, and cracked black pepper.
Just before the highly aromatic buttery bath came to a boil, I tumbled 1 pound of unpeeled head-on shrimp into the pan. When the shrimp started to turn pink, I reduced the heat to medium and added an additional 1/4 pound butter a few pieces at a time to emulsify the sauce. After about 3 minutes, I pulled the pan from the heat, covered the pan, and let the shrimp steep for 5 minutes before finishing with a handful of snipped chives and crusty bread to sop.
Pop off the heads. Suck. Repeat.
Then, grab a bib, plastic gloves, or full on latex body suit to dig into these slippery sweet and spicy butter bombs.
Packed with intense acidic buttery heat, they're wonderfully messy, rich, succulent, and perfectly indulgent.
Eat. Suck. Lick. Sop.
Laissez les bons temps rouler.