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Monday, March 24, 2014

Chilled Shrimp w/ Romesco Sauce

Chilled Shrimp with Romesco Sauce |
I know this is kind of weird, but chilled shrimp reminds me of Christmas. I've told the story before, but in case you haven't heard it, I'll fill you in. Ever since I can remember, my extended family has always come together at my grandparent's house during the holidays. Now, inevitably life happens, and there are years when you just can't make it. But the thing is, you always know what you're missing. Our routine...or maybe tradition is a better word...has never strayed too far year to year.

Does everybody love their grandparent's house? I mean, the people themselves, of course - but the house itself? Because I do. I've always dreamed of having a house just like theirs. Only updated and in a different location. It's a split-level ranch and though it may not look like it from the outside, has tons of space. So, although the family has grown exponentially, we all still fit nicely.

But anyway, the dining room has one wall that is filled by sliding glass doors that lead out to the back yard. Since they live in Michigan, there's not much call for opening them on Christmas Eve (you know, it's freezing and snowy outside), so the vertical blinds are closed and a table is butted up against the space, turning it into a wall. This table holds platters piled high with sliced ham, baskets of hawaiian rolls, trays of veggies with bowls of dip set in the center. Scalloped potatoes, dips both hot and cold, piping-hot bacon-wrapped water chestnuts, and the pièce de résistance - a giant dish filled to the gills with delicate pink shrimp and a bowl of cocktail sauce.

Chilled Shrimp with Romesco Sauce |
The thing is, my grandma has always bought the shrimp pre-cooked (you know the huge ringed trays of them, right) from the market. They're kind of watery. They have no special flavor. In short, they're boring. And yes, the cocktail sauce comes from a jar. But we grew up with it, so it was just sort of one of those things.

Last time I vowed (silently) that I was going to bring the shrimp. And the sauce. And both were going to have loads of flavor. I've been gathering recipes and making notes on flavors I've wanted to try ever since. I checked a ton of cookbooks out from the library last holiday season, and remembered seeing an awesome looking boiled shrimp with lots of chile flakes and a Romesco dipping sauce. I commited that much to memory. But which book it was actually in, I cannnot tell you. And I've racked my brain trying to remember. This chilled shrimp with Romesco is a recreation of what I remember.

I wonder how much of a revolt I'd have on my hands if I replaced the tired shrimp centerpiece with this next year?
Chilled Shrimp with Romesco Sauce |
This dish is my submission to the Shrimp Showdown sponsored by OXO, the Eastern Fish Company and the NFI Shrimp Council. It was mighty easy drawing inspiration from a big, (beyond) beautiful bag of shrimp and some kitchen amazing kitchen tools.

Here is a rundown of the handy items in my OXO Shrimp Tool Kit (all included in the giveaway below), and my thoughts on each one:
  • Shrimp Cleaner: This thing is so cool! With its large, soft handle and ridged cleaner, it makes deveining and peeling a cinch. Slide that long ridged end into the end of the shrimp and with one swift motion, crack the shell and lift out that vein. Catch a demo here.
  • Flexible Kitchen & Herb Snips: The large handle is very comfortable on my hands. I also really like the thin short tip, as it allows for more precise cutting than bulkier kitchen shears. Perfect for snipping herbs, kitchen twine, cheesecloth, smaller cuts of meat or fish, and flower stems (or even shrimp shells, if you don't have your shrimp cleaner handy).
  • Silicone Steamer: L.O.V.E. this steamer. Seriously, who else grew up with those collapsible metal steamers that always closed on you at the most inopportune time? This steamer is flexible, high walls, and HANDLES! The only steamer basket you'll need for the rest of your life. 
  • Wooden Lemon Reamer: I should start off by saying that I've used a wooden citrus reamer for years. It's one of my favorite kitchen tools. The OXO version is slightly larger than the one I already have, which means that I will purpose it for large lemons, oranges, grapefruits and other larger citrus. Perfect.
  • 3 Piece Bowl and Colander Set: The bowl is large and has a non-slip base. The colander insert drains nicely due to its elongated holes. I also like the grippable handles that allow for easy lifting from the bowl. My favorite feature is the raised base because it both lifts it away from the sink if you're draining something and allows some room between it and the bowl for residual liquid if storing in the fridge that way. And a lid to cap it all off. Literally. Perfect for draining and chilling shrimp, by the way.
  • 12" Tongs with Silicone Heads: My favorite feature of these tongs are the silicone tips. I hate using metal-tipped tongs in my nice pans for fear of scraping up the bottoms. Plus, they are heat resistant up to 600° F and have long handles, which makes them perfectly suited for another common job in my kitchen, flipping veggies that are roasting under a hot broiler.

Chilled Shrimp with Romesco Sauce
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Chilled Shrimp with Romesco Sauce |
by Heather Schmitt-Gonzalez
Prep Time: 15 minutes (+ time to chill)
Cook Time: 15-20 minutes
Keywords: appetizer condiment dairy-free soy-free sugar-free shrimp tomatoes bell peppers

Ingredients (serves 8)
    for the shrimp:
    • 2 lemons, halved
    • 2 large shallots, peeled & quartered
    • 1/4 cup crushed red chiles
    • 1 teaspoon sea salt
    • 2 pounds raw, unpeeled large shrimp
    for the sauce:
    • 2 medium red bell peppers
    • 1 pint grape tomatoes
    • 5 cloves garlic, unpeeled
    • 1/4 cup blanched almonds, toasted
    • 1 (2 ounce) hunk of crusty bread
    • 2 tablespoons olive oil
    • 2 tablespoons white balsamic vinegar
    • 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
    • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
    • palmful freshly chopped parsley
    Preheat your broiler. Line a rimmed sheet tray (that will fit under the broiler) with foil; set aside.

    Place the lemon halves (give them a little squeeze), onion quarters, crushed red chiles, and salt in a large Dutch oven and add 6 cups of water. Bring to a boil. Carefully lower in the shrimp and let cook for 2 minutes. Remove from heat and let sit for 10 minutes.
    Chilled Shrimp with Romesco Sauce |
    Drain the shrimp and let sit at room temperature to cool down a bit, ~30 minutes. Cover and place in the refrigerator to chill.

    In the meantime, lay the red bell peppers, grape tomatoes, and garlic on the prepared tray. Set under the preheated broiler until the outsides are blistered and charred, turning occassionally, ~12-16 minutes. Remove garlic as soon as the skins turn brown, 5 minutes or so. Rip the hunk of crusty bread into several pieces and add to the tray to toast for the last minute or so, until just dried out and lightly golden.

    Wrap the bell peppers in a clean kitchen towel (or a zippered baggie) and allow to steam for 10 minutes or so, this will help loosen the skin. Slide the skin off of the peppers and pull out the stem and seeds. Peel the garlic.

    Combine all of the ingredients for the Romesco sauce in a food processor (including any accumulated juices from the broiled veggies), except the parsley, and process until smooth. Stir in parsley. Transfer to a covered container and chill until ready to serve.

    Serve the chilled shrimp on a platter with the Romesco sauce on the side for dipping. Add a few lemon wedges, if you like. Enjoy!

    tips and recommendations for using OXO Shrimp Tools in this recipe:
    Placing all of the ingredients for the shrimp in an OXO steamer basket makes for extremely easy draining. Simply lift the basket out of the water when it's time. You can either put it in the pot before or after the flavoring ingredients - depending on whether or not you want to lift them out with the shrimp.

    Use the OXO 12" Tongs with Silicone Heads for turning the bell peppers during roasting. The length keeps your fingers from getting burned.

    Once the shrimp have been lifted out of the water with the strainer, transfer them to the colander set inside the bowl of the OXO 3 Piece Bowl and Colander Set. Once they've cooled down, lift up the colander and pour out any liquid that may have accumulated in the bowl during this time. Pour the shrimp from the colander into the bowl, snap on the lid, and slide into the refrigerator until ready to serve.

    -If you're uncomfortable leaving the vein in the shrimp, use the OXO Shrimp Cleaner to remove it before dropping them into the water. You could either leave the shells on and cracked down the back - which would make for easy peeling later, or you can remove them entirely. I leave the shells on for added flavor and because I like the presentation, but they will be equally good either way you do it. You can also devein them after they've cooked.

    -Romesco sauce is traditionally made using raw garlic, which adds a nice bite to it. I like roasting it sometimes if I'm feeling like like mellow flavor. Feel free to use a few cloves of raw garlic in place of the roasted, if you'd rather.
    Chilled Shrimp with Romesco Sauce |

    Bloggers taking part in the #ShrimpShowdown and their tasty shrimp recipes:

    I was provided with an OXO Shrimp Tool Kit and 5 pounds of shrimp at no cost to participate in the Shrimp Showdown, create recipes using these items, and share my experience with them. All opinions stated in this post are my own.