Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Sundog Amber Creole Barbecue Shrimp

About a month ago, Seth and I dined at the Blue House Bistro in Holland, just a few blocks west of New Holland Brewing Co. It's small, unassuming, and definitely off the beaten path, but this culinary pearl (in a bit of a rough outer shell) is surely a place you should check out next time you're around downtown Holland.

The outside

The West Eighth Street restaurant, which opened last Spring, exquisitely blends two culinary styles: French-inspired Creole city fare and spicy Cajun peasant food, and just so happens to be the inspiration for this recipe I created for Fat Tuesday. Yes, it's a little late now, but it's great for any other time of the year, too!

The inside: a bistro/convenience store/work in progress?

The first dish we tried at the Blue House Bistro was the Creole Barbecue Shrimp, and is described on the menu as “A New Orleans classic with a Holland based beer reduction. Shrimp, garlic, and onion in a New Holland Amber Ale reduction, served with baguettes.” "Barbecue" is a bit of a misnomer here as the shrimp are actually pan-fried, not barbecued; nevertheless, it was still incredibly delicious. And though the Blue House Bistro does make home deliveries, I'm pretty sure my house here in Grand Rapids is not within their delivery zone. So to tide me over until our next trip out to Holland, I made up my own version, which was actually pretty close to the real deal.

The Blue House Bistro's version of Creole BBQ Shrimp

For this recipe, you'll need:

1 pound Shrimp (with shells on)
1 stick butter, divided
1 tablespoon black pepper, divided
2 tablespoons Creole seasoning, divided
1 shallot, diced
2 bay leaves
7-8 cloves garlic, diced and divided
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
1 cup New Holland Sundog Amber Ale
2 tablespoons fresh parsley
1 tablespoon rosemary
1-2 lemons
Olive oil

Peel and devein the shrimp. Leave the tails on (and heads, if desired) and save the shells for the shrimp stock.

To make the shrimp stock, put the shrimp shells in a pot on high heat and add 2 tablespoons butter, allowing the shells to roast. 

Once the butter is melted, add ½ tablespoon pepper, 1 tablespoon Creole seasoning, the diced shallot, bay leaves, and 3-4 cloves of garlic.

Deglaze the pan with the Sundog Amber Ale and let it cook down a bit (about 3 minutes) before adding Worcestershire sauce. Add just enough water to the stock to cover the shells and cook for 15 minutes on a low simmer. After 15 minutes, strain the stock to remove all of the shells.

While the shrimp stock is simmering, caramelize some lemons to toss in during the final step of the recipe. This is very simple – cut 1 or 2 lemons in half and saute in olive oil until the outside of the lemons are brown and caramelized, similar to how you would caramelize an onion, just..bigger.

In the meantime, add 2-3 tablespoons butter and all of the shrimp to a pan. 

Add the other ½ tablespoon pepper, the parsley, rosemary, other 3-4 cloves of garlic and 1 tablespoon Creole seasoning. Lightly saute and toss the shrimp with tongs.

Add the strained shrimp stock and a little more butter (1-2 tablespoons). Add the carmalized lemons.

Plate and serve with sliced french baguette.

Though the ingredients satisfy the Lenten restrictions for Fridays, the richness and deliciousness of this New Orleans-style Barbecue Shrimp preparation is somewhat in contrast to the notion of sacrifice.  This is a great dish, and simple to make, even if there are a fair number of ingredients.

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