One of the most notable things about New Orleans-style barbecue shrimp is that it isn’t grilled. Rather, this decadent Crescent City classic is sautéed in a flavor-packed sauce. In many restaurants, New Orleans-style barbecue shrimp is served with the shrimp heads and shells left on, which further enhances the almost-hedonistic experience.
Butter—and lots of it—forms the basis for the silky, luxurious sauce, and layers of flavor are added with rosemary, garlic, hot sauce, Worcestershire, and beer. The result is bright and spicy, herbaceous and deeply savory, and with one taste, you’ll be hooked.
Invented at Pascal’s Manale—the 100-year-old Uptown New Orleans institution—New Orleans-style barbecue shrimp has grown in popularity to a point where it can be found on many of the city’s best menus. The spices and preparations will vary a bit depending on the chef ’s preferences, but the dish always delivers.
- 2 pounds jumbo or colossal fresh shrimp, heads on
- 7 cups cold water
- 12 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
- 2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh rosemary leaves
- 1½ teaspoons ground black pepper
- 2 teaspoons Cajun seasoning
- 2 shallots, minced
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- ¼ cup Worcestershire sauce
- ¼ cup hot sauce
- 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
- ½ cup dark or amber beer*
- 2 loaves French bread, for serving
- Peel shrimp and devein, leaving tails on and reserving the heads and shells. Refrigerate shrimp.
- In a small Dutch oven, add shrimp heads and shells, and cover with 7 cups cold water. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to medium, and cook, stirring occasionally, for 15 minutes. Skim any froth as it rises to the surface. Strain through a fine-mesh sieve into a bowl, and set aside. Reserve 1 cup shrimp stock. Remaining stock can be refrigerated up to 1 week or frozen up to 3 months.
- In a large skillet, melt 5 tablespoons butter over high heat. Add rosemary, pepper, Cajun seasoning, shallot, and garlic. Cook, stirring constantly, until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add reserved stock, Worcestershire, hot sauce, and lemon juice. Add shrimp, and cook just until pink and firm.
- Add beer, and cook 2 to 3 minutes more. Decrease heat to low, and add remaining 7 tablespoons butter. Gently stir as the butter melts into the sauce and the sauce is emulsified. Serve immediately with French bread.
- *For testing purposes, we used Abita Amber.