Monday, January 31, 2011

Lowcountry BBQ Shrimp and Birthday Cake

My oldest son turns 20 on February 6th and a couple of weeks ago when my wife and I began to discuss plans for celebrating his birthday the planning got complicated. As usual, when you are planning a weekend event around the life of a college student you better be prepared to remain flexible. Actually, my work schedule provided a huge challenge to a Super Bowl Weekend celebration as much as his social schedule, so we decided at JD's suggestion, to schedule the birthday celebration for this past weekend.

Mother Nature provided a WONDERFUL late January offering of 70+ degree daytime temps, and for our Saturday evening happy hour on the back patio, it was still in the 60's a couple hours after sunset at 7pm. We enjoyed an hour or so of sitting around the fireplace telling "fish stories" from the day we had spent on the water.

The original plan had called for fresh grilled fish, but a good chef is always prepared to improvise and deal with whatever fate provides, so the back-up plan when the fish weren't cooperating was New York Strips on the grill and some delicious local shrimp from Edisto done up Lowcountry BBQ style. Since many of you responded to the picture I posted on Facebook with requests for the recipe, I thought today it would be good to post the recipe on my blog. I actually adapted my recipe from a Paula Deen recipe for New Orleans Style BBQ Shrimp, but my version is uniquely Lowcountry.

I start with a cup of Worcestershire Sauce in a sauce pot, and bring that to boil, then cut back to simmer. The goal is to reduce the cup by simmering to about 1/3 of a cup. In the meantime, slice a couple of lemons thin, mince 8 cloves of garlic, trim 6 sprigs of fresh thyme, pick 3 bay leaves off of your bay tree (or get them from a can), and once the Worcestershire is reduced pour all of this into a large pot along with a 12 ounce bottle of dark beer. Allow this to cook for 5 minutes, stirring frequently. After 5 minutes of simmering the mixture, add a couple teaspoons of butt rub (any dry rub barbecue seasoning will do) and 3 tablespoons of Sticky Fingers Carolina Sweet Barbecue Sauce. Bring this to boil, then the main ingredient, dump 4 pounds of fresh local shrimp, unpeeled (the best part) and cook for 3-4 minutes until the shrimp are pink and firm. Note: if you have the time, prepare up to the point of adding shrimp the night before, then cool the mixture and add shrimp to marinate overnight in the fridge, then when you are ready to cook, remove the shrimp from the sauce, heat the sauce to boil and add shrimp.

While I prepped dinner with pandora radio playing the Tams, JD gave Michelle some premium shag lessons in the kitchen. It's simple, just count to three. At least if Zumba doesn't work out for Michelle, she can just shag for exercise.

For JD's dinner, I paired the shrimp with grilled steak, a twice baked potatoe and Ceaser Salad, but combining with some cheese grits or yellow rice and steamed veggies would work just as well. One tip, provide your guests with towels in place of napkins, they will love you for it.

After dinner, we even had a little birthday cake for JD. Wow, 20 years old, where has the time gone? Of course yesterday afternoon when JD packed his truck with clean clothes and the remains of his birthday cake and headed back up I-26 towards Columbia and the University of South Carolina, the memories of a classic weekend remained, but a bit of sadness permeated our hearts, like it always does when he leaves and heads off to continue the construction of his adult life.

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