After these plump up from a quick brine, and cook in their shells, they’ll eat more like peel-and-eat lobster tails than plain old shrimp. Serve this alongside grilled steak, and it’ll be not only a great respite from the meat’s richness, but it’ll give you a surf-and-turf experience, which for me was one of the most exciting things to get at a restaurant when I was little.
Another far-superior substitute to its bottle equivalent, this cocktail sauce is revved up with plenty of lemon juice, bottled horseradish, and an equal amount of the nose-clearing fresh kind. I can’t imagine serving anything else with these cool, plump cocktail shrimp.
Yield: Serves 8
Twenty-four 8- to 12-count unpeeled shrimp (this means shrimp that come 8 to 12 a pound)
8 cups water
¼ cup coarse grain salt
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
4 garlic cloves, peeled, and grated on a Microplane grater
3 cups ice
1/3 cup canola or vegetable oil
½ cup extra virgin olive oil
Juice of 2 lemons
¼ cup minced chives
Freshly ground coarse black pepper
1 recipe Amped-Up Cocktail Sauce (recipe follows)
2 lemons, each cut into 4 wedges
Amped-up cocktail sauce:
2 cups ketchup
2 tablespoons freshly grated horseradish root (see Note)
2 tablespoons high-quality bottled horseradish
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 ½ tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
1 tablespoon hot sauce
2 medium shallots, peeled, and grated on a Microplane grater
For the Shrimp:
1. Combine all of the brine ingredients in a large bowl and stir to dissolve the salt and sugar. Cut the lemons in half, squeeze the juice into the brine, and add the whole lemons as well. Stir in the garlic, followed by the ice. For each of the shrimp, using a paring knife, cut along the curve of the back of the shrimp, and remove the vein, keeping the shells intact. Clip the feet off with a small pair of scissors. Place the shrimp in the brine and refrigerate for 1 hour.
2. Preheat all grates of a well-oiled charcoal or gas grill to medium.
3. Remove the shrimp from the brine and lightly pat dry with paper towels. In a bowl, toss the shrimp in the canola oil. In a separate bowl, combine the olive oil, lemon juice, and chives. Set aside.
4. Place the shrimp on the grate, close the lid, and grill for 4 minutes. Flip to the second side and grill for 4 minutes.
5. Remove from the grill and immediately place in the bowl with the olive oil mixture, tossing to coat. Season with salt and pepper and serve with cocktail sauce and lemon wedges on the side.
For the Cocktail Sauce:
Stir together all of the ingredients in a medium bowl and refrigerate for at least 2 hours, but preferably overnight for the flavors to develop.
Fresh horseradish is available in many markets and is worth seeking out. If you can’t find it, the sauce won’t have that extra punch, but it’ll still have great flavor. Use additional bottled horseradish to taste.