If something can be overdone, I'll over do it. My husband will back me up on my confession without hesitation. I like spectacle. Grand gestures. Wow statements. Although I admire minimilism and can appreciate the simple things in life, I definitely lean towards the "more is more" compulsion. Throwing a party is an opportunity for me to pull out all the stops.
When I was single, I would spend days preparing an elaborate meal. I would treat my family to multiple courses with nearly everything on the menu made from scratch. Once I was married and had my daughter, I still found time to entertain and simplify where I could, but even then, my true nature would show itself by evidence of abundance on the table.
In the past decade as my life became increasingly hectic, I adopted a divide and conquer approach to planning get togethers with friends where everyone agreeably contributes to the meal. We all share the load and the laughs. We have exchanged some fantastic recipes along the way. Items that can be made a day or two ahead of time and travel well are highly desirable like this tantalizing recipe for shrimp.
Super Special Spicy Pickled Shrimp
Shrimp is highly perishable. Once it has been out for 3 or 4 hours, it must be pitched and shall not be returned to the refrigerator to be eaten the next day. Fortunately, shrimp are always popular, and in my experience rarely are there any left over. Better to refill a bowl of pickled shrimp then to put out the entire batch unless you are serving a large crowd.
Rifs on this appetizer would be to add diced red and yellow bell peppers. Some chopped celery might be nice as well as some capers thrown in for additional flavor. Crumbled feta could be interesting as well as a generous handful of pitted kalamata olives.
This recipe can certainly be halved. Because the shrimp can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 72 hours, I like to reserve a portion that will be the center of a meal in a day or two whether it is to be the star of a main course salad or served as a topping on pesto pasta or homemade pizza. For this recipe, I think it is wise to remove the tails so the shrimp are easy to eat with a fork.
4 pounds uncooked shrimp, deveined with shells and tails removed
4 to 6 heads Belgium endive, red or green, or a mix of both - optional
3 Tbsps whole grain Dijon mustard
1 cup cider vinegar
1 cup white wine vinegar or white vinegar
the zest and juice of 2 large lemons
1 cup vegetable oil, or 1/2 cup olive oil and 1/2 cup vegetable oil or avocado oil
3 Tbsps agave syrup or honey
1 head garlic (about 10-12 cloves), finely minced
1 yellow onion, minced, or 5 to 6 shallots sliced into thin rings
1 Tbsp sea salt
1 Tbsp paprika
1 Tbsp turmeric
2 tsps dried dill
1-1/2 tsps celery seed
1 heaping tsp crushed red pepper flakes
1 tsp ground black pepper
3-4 bay leaves
1. If you have time, brine the shrimp for a minimum of 30 minutes or up to 60.
2. In a mixing bowl, add the whole grain mustard, the vinegar, lemon zest and lemon juice. Slowly whisk in the oil(s) until emulsified. Whisk in the rest of the marinade ingredients. Set aside, or chill until ready to combine the marinade and the shrimp.
3. To boil shrimp: Bring 8 quarts of water to a boil. Near the stove, prepare a large bowl of ice water. Drain the shrimp and discard the brine. Add half the shrimp to the boiling water and stir frequently. The shrimp will cook quickly so keep an eye on them. As soon as the shrimp begin to curl and turn pink, about 1 minute, the little guys are done. Quickly transfer the shrimp, using a large mesh spoon, to the ice water bath. Let the shrimp cool 2 to 3 minutes and then transfer to a large container with a lid. When the water returns to a boil again, repeat the process with the remaining uncooked shrimp.
4. Pour the marinade over the cooled shrimp. Gently stir. Refrigerate for a minimum of 8 hours and up to 72 hours.
5. To prepare the endive, cut off the bottom core or the endive and separate the leaves. Rinse leaves and dry well. This can be done several hours in advance and chill until ready. Serve endive in a bowl alongside the shrimp. Guests can scoop up some of the shrimp into the endive leaves for a refreshing bite, without requiring a plate and a fork.