Big Game Shrimp Cocktail
It seems like every other commercial on TV right now is from some fast food joint, extolling the virtue of supplying your Super Bowl party from their menu. Sure, it is easy to just run out for some wings and pizza, but this year, you might want to try something that is a step up from the usual fare, but is still not a whole lot of trouble. You can even make this Shrimp Cocktail the day before and have a little more time to enjoy your guests before kickoff time.
I like to buy fairly large frozen EZ peel shrimp. Precooked shrimp doesn’t have as much flavor and the raw ones aren’t very hard to peel. Cooking the shrimp with the peels on also brings in a bit of extra flavor, and you can simmer the shells further to make a stock if you are feeling hyper-thrifty. For this though, you don’t have to worry about peeling at all, because it’s served with the shells on.
The sky is the limit when it comes to seasonings for these. I always use some chopped raw garlic, and then I vary things with spices like smoked paprika, pickling spice, seafood seasoning, or Great American Spice’s own version of Bay Seasoning. I like to throw in some fresh cracked pepper as well, and a good amount of kosher salt.
Thaw the shrimp completely, so that they will cook evenly. Using a roomy pan aids in even cooking, along with thawing it ahead of time ensures they all get done at the same time.
So, get a large pan of water simmering – for a pound of shrimp, a 12 inch saute pan will be fine, but for more than that, a 5 quart dutch oven or soup pot is a good choice. Say you are planning to feed 6 people, and you are going to have 3 or 4 different munchies around- you want to figure about 1/2 to 1/3 pound of shrimp each, so for 3 pounds of shrimp, fill that 5 quart dutch oven about half full.
Add 2 smashed and roughly chopped garlic cloves, 1 teaspoon smoked paprika, 2 teaspoons of Pickling Spice, and about 1/2 teaspoon freshly cracked 5 Peppercorn Blend. You could try a bit of Ground Chipotle if you like things spicy, or some Bay Seasoning for a more traditional flavor. Let the seasonings simmer for about 5 minutes before adding the shrimp, to really extract some extra flavor. Add the shrimp all at once, and give them a good stir so they are all submerged in liquid. Once the water is back up to a boil, it will not take long for the shrimp to cook – how long exactly depends on the size of the shrimp and the amount you are cooking. You can tell they are done when they are pink through and fairly firm – usually not much more than 5 minutes or so, so keep an eye on them. You might want to pull one out and cut it in half just to be sure they are done.
Remove the shrimp with a slotted spoon or a wire spider, and get them in the fridge. They will be fine there for at least 24 hours, but make sure you leave at least 2 to 3 hours so they are completely chilled.
Serve with cocktail sauce, and lemon wedges.
You might want to spice up your cocktail sauce [typically made with ketchup, horseradish and lemon] with one of our hot sauces like Scorned Woman or Jalapeno Death – yummy stuff!