By DAVE LOBECK
Sometimes people put off smoking foods on weeknights because they feel they don’t have enough time, and in most cases they might be right.
But, this week’s column will cover a versatile dish that once the coals get going literally takes just moments, and the end result is both delicious and smoky. We will cover two ways to serve this dish.
First, we have to go buy some shrimp. You will want them in the shell and raw without the head. And, while the bigger ones are bit more expensive, the bigger the better when grilling or smoking. If they are larger you won’t spend as much time shelling them, and there won’t be as many to shell. Also, the larger ones will be moist and juicy after the cooking process is done.
In this case, we found frozen 12 to 15 count shrimp, which means there are 12 to 15 shrimp per pound. We placed them in the fridge the day before to initiate the thawing process. You could also thaw them in cold water the day you are using them.
The first step will be to shell the shrimp. Simply grab the leg portion and peel the legs off. Then, peel the shell itself off. The next step is to take a small, sharp knife and slice the shrimp up the entire back.
You will notice a long, sometimes dark intestinal organ commonly called the mud vein. I’m not going to explain what the mud vein is, but let’s just say I have never been a big fan of cooked shrimp that hasn’t had the mud vein removed. That’s all I am going to say about that.
The step is to rinse the shrimp and set those aside.
While cleaning the shrimp, soak the wooden skewers in water for half an hour or so. Next, skewer the shrimp. First pierce through the tail end then through the meaty part of the shrimp. The end result should resemble a bunch of “C” shaped shrimp. They can touch, but not be tightly packed together.
The first way to prepare the shrimp is to simply smoke them. You do this on a charcoal grill by using indirect heat and your favorite wood chips. Once the coals are 80 percent gray, place a handful of wood chips on the coals. Let the wood chips burn out. Salt and pepper the shrimp and place the shrimp opposite the coals and place the lid on the grill.
Once they turn pink, they are done. Depending on the size of the shrimp, this takes anywhere from five to 10 minutes. The shrimp will be plump, juicy and smoky.
The second way to prepare them can be done on charcoals or on a gas grill. Skewer the shrimp as above, then sprinkle with Cajun seasoning. Brush your favorite barbecue sauce on the shrimp and place the shrimp directly over the flames or coals. Turn after a minute or two and baste again. This approach will not provide you with the smoky flavor as our first method, but the spices combined with the caramelized barbecue sauce is delicious and a nice change.
Pull the shrimp once they are firm to the touch and pink. Again, this won’t take long at all. The risk with shrimp is to overcook.
Leftover shrimp? Place then in a freezer bag and put them in the fridge. Cut into bite-sized pieces the next day and sprinkle on a tossed salad. Delicious!
— Dave Lobeck is an Edward Jones Financial Advisor in Jeffersonville by day and a BBQ enthusiast and “foodie” on nights and weekends. He is also a Kansas City Barbecue Society judge. You can contact Dave with your BBQ and grilling questions at www.BBQ-My-Way.com.