New Orleans Barbecue Shrimp

There is an important lesson to be learned from this post: request a recipe and you might just get invited over for dinner.  🙂  After I posted the list of ideas for things I might attempt to cook this year, my dad requested the New Orleans-style Barbecue Shrimp.  This weekend, after a trip to the Boston Wine Expo, I made John Besh’s recipe and served it to the family.

I’ve never seen this dish outside of New Orleans and the name is a bit of a misnomer, as these shrimp are not barbecued at all.  I’m sure someone could dig up the reason it’s called this, but I’ll just worry about cooking it.

Week: 4 of 52

Cookbook: My New Orleans, John Besh

Typically, these shrimp are cooked in the shell, with the head on.  This lends quite a bit of shrimp flavor to the finished product and it’s really wonderful.  It’s also quite messy.  John Besh’s recipe is a bit different. It calls for peeling the shrimp and starting the sauce with the heads and shells.  Unfortunately, we were unable to find head-on shrimp.  But we did get beautiful, giant, wild-caught shrimp from the US.

After peeling the shrimp, I toasted the shells in a bit of olive oil until they were lightly browned and smelled wonderful.  Once toasted, I added a mixture of Worcestershire, Cajun seasoning, bay leaves, cloves, black pepper, and water.  Once this comes to a boil, you let it simmer until it’s reduced by half.  Strain and reserve the remaining sauce.

This is what’s left over: 

You can do up to this point ahead of time and just reserve this sauce base for when you’re ready to cook.

To cook the shrimp, season with salt and pepper, and combine with the sauce base, heavy cream, and butter (hey, I never said this was healthy) in a pan.  Bring this mixture to a boil and reduce the heat to simmer the shrimp for about 5 minutes until cooked.  Remove the shrimp and continue simmering the sauce to reduce by half.  The sauce will continue to darken to a light brown.

Serve the finished sauce over the shrimp with lots of French bread to soak up the sauce.  We also had a simple salad of mixed greens, blue cheese and toasted pumpkin seeds.  Yum!


  • Shrimp shells & heads
  • Louisiana or Wild-Caught U.S. Shrimp, shelled and deveined
  • Worcestershire Sauce
  • Cajun Seasoning
  • Bay Leaves
  • Whole Cloves
  • Water
  • Heavy Cream
  • Butter
  • French Bread
  • All-Clad Cookware

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