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Lousiana BBQ Shrimp Creole

September 20, 2016



Let’s talk about shrimp and grits, a dish that’s near and dear to our hearts. Something magical happens when you grace fresh, voluptuous shrimp with a plush sauce and dish it over velvety grits. Simplicity and luxury in equal measure.

Shrimp and grits has a special place at our table and we’re always on the lookout for excellent recipes. That’s how this this one came about. We've always loved the messy wild child called Louisiana BBQ shrimp, but most recipes for that involve multiple sticks of butter which can overwhelm a plate of grits. This recipe tames the beast by using the amount of butter in a classic Creole sauce and Louisiana's "holy trinity" of onions, celery, bell peppers. Then comes the essence of classic BBQ shrimp—rosemary, bay leaves, beer, and Worcestershire. It's all good. 



This dish comes together in a quick progression of steps, a lot like a stir-fry, so be sure to gather, measure, and line up the ingredients before setting pan to flame! But first, get a batch of Creamy Country Grits simmering so they'll be ready when the shrimp is done!


Makes 4 to 5 servings  |  Prep time: 15 minutes  |  Cooking time: 20 minutes



  • 1½ pounds jumbo (21/25 count) shrimp, peeled, tails on
  • 5 teaspoons (divided) Old Bay, or other Creole seasoning such as Emeril's Essence or Zatarain's 
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil, divided 
  • 3–4 medium whole bay leaves
  • 1 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper
  • 2 teaspoons finely chopped fresh rosemary
  • ¼ teaspoon celery seed
  • ¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes, or more to taste 
  • ¼ cup finely diced celery
  • ¼ cup finely diced onion
  • ¼ cup finely diced green and/or red bell pepper
  • 1 tablespoon (2–3 cloves) finely minced garlic 
  • ½ cup amber beer, such as an IPA, or white vermouth
  • 1¼ cups chicken broth
  • 3 tablespoons chili sauce (substitute ketchup)
  • 3 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce 
  • ¾ tablespoon cornstarch dissolved in ¼ cup cold water
  • 1 lemon, halved or quartered, seeds removed 
  • ½ cup sliced scallions, whites and greens 
  • 4 ounces butter (1 stick) cut into tablespoon-size pieces
  • Salt, to taste

Ingredient Options
• Kick up the flavor with shrimp broth. When peeling the shrimp, save the shells and simmer them in 1½ cups of low sodium chicken or vegetable broth for 10 to 15 minutes. Strain and measure to use in place of 1¼ cups chicken broth.
• Increase servings. Add ½ pound more shrimp to serve 6 or 7.



Prepare the Shrimp

Toss the shrimp with 3 teaspoons of Old Bay or Creole seasoning. Heat 1 tablespoon of the olive oil in a heavy 12-inch skillet over high heat until the oil glistens and smokes. Add the shrimp and quickly stir-fry them for about 1 minute until they’re seared and turning pink in spots. You’re just searing, not cooking them. Transfer the shrimp to a platter and spread them out so they won’t continue cooking. Set aside.

Make the Sauce

Reduce the heat to medium and add the remaining tablespoon of olive oil to the skillet. Add the bay leaves, black pepper, rosemary, celery seed, red pepper flakes, and the remaining 2 teaspoons of Old Bay. Quickly mix with the oil. Add the celery, onion, bell pepper, and garlic and sauté until the vegetables have softened—2 to 3 minutes.

Deglaze the pan with the beer and simmer for about 1 minute to cook off the alcohol. Stir in the broth, chili sauce, and Worcestershire sauce. Squeeze the lemon wedges into the pan and drop them in. Simmer the mixture until the onions are tender and the sauce has reduced slightly—7 to 8 minutes.

Give the cornstarch-water mixture a quick stir then add it the pan. Stir constantly as the sauce thickens and the cornstarch loses most of its cloudiness—2 to 3 minutes.

Make ahead note. At this point the Creamy Country Grits should be ready, the table set, and everyone ready to sit down and eat. If that’s not the case, you can remove the pan from the heat and hold for up to 45 minutes (or refrigerate overnight) before adding with the shrimp and finishing the dish.

Finish the Dish

Raise the heat to high. When the sauce is boiling, add the shrimp and half of the scallions. Let the shrimp cook, stirring them constantly, until they begin to turn pink and curl—3 to 7 minutes depending their size. Do not overcook the shrimp! They’ll continue cooking after they’re off the heat.

Remove the pan from the heat. (If you prefer, remove the lemon pieces and the bay leaves.) Blend in the butter, 2 or 3 pieces at a time, incorporating each addition into the sauce until smooth and velvety. Taste for seasoning and add salt if necessary. Serve Louisiana BBQ Shrimp Creole immediately, spooned over Creamy Country Grits. Top with the remaining scallion slices, if you like, and serve with lemon wedges.

Reheating note: If need be, you can rewarm the dish over low heat, but be careful because the butter will separate if the sauce gets hot enough to bubble.