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Sandy D'Amato | The Kitchen Technician

Shrimp dish good enough for jumbo billboard

Shrimp dish good enough for jumbo billboard - JSOnline

Posted: Sep. 28, 2008

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Whenever I hear the word “shrimp,” it’s usually preceded by “jumbo,” which makes for the classic oxymoron.

In the crustacean world, bigger is better, and the largest shrimp I’ve ever seen were as big as monster semi tires but not a bit rubbery. I’m not exaggerating, they were that large, and I made them. Actually, the ones I made were a bit smaller, but I’ll explain.

When I was chef at John Byron’s in the ’80s, the owners decided to do a full-scale advertising campaign for the restaurant. The centerpiece was built around a signature shrimp dish that I had on the menu. It was sautéed shrimp in a quick sauce of brandy, white wine, shallots, green peppercorns and a touch of cream with a fine julienne of leek and carrots. To enrich the finished dish, I would use the shells to add a bit of crustacean depth to the sauce.

This was my first time working with a food photographer. I went down to the studio at 8 in the morning for what I thought would be about a one-hour process. It ended up taking about six hours to get the perfect photo of this single dish.

About three weeks after the pictures were taken, I was driving north on I-94 toward downtown. I looked up and almost veered off the highway. There was a huge billboard with five of the largest shrimp I’d ever seen. These weren’t jumbo, they were colossal. They were draped by 2-by-4-sized leeks and carrots, with peppercorns the size of bowling balls.

Those were my shrimp, and they looked darn tasty.

The only warning I have is that if you're going to try this recipe, make sure you start with a large enough pan.

Sautéed Shrimp with Green Peppercorns

Makes 2 servings

2 tablespoons butter (divided)

12 large shrimp, peeled and deveined (reserve shells)

1 teaspoon paprika

½ cup dry white wine

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

2

teaspoons chopped shallots

2

teaspoons drained and lightly crushed green peppercorns

¼

cup brandy

¾ cup heavy whipping cream

¼ cup julienne of leeks and carrots, loosely packed

Shrimp dish good enough for jumbo billboard - JSOnline

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Place a small pan over medium heat. Add 1 tablespoon of the butter. When hot, add shrimp shells and paprika and sauté 1 ½ minutes. Add wine, bring to a boil, turn off heat, cover and let steep 30 minutes. Strain shells, pressing on them to extract all juice. Discard shells and set liquid aside.

Place a large sauté pan over medium-high heat. When hot, add remaining 1 tablespoon butter and the oil to pan. Season shrimp lightly with salt and pepper, add to pan and sauté about 1 minute per side. Add shallots and green peppercorns and sauté 5 minutes more.

Remove pan from heat, add brandy and place back on heat. When brandy is hot, remove from heat again and carefully flambé dish, using long-handled match or a butane lighter. When flames have subsided, add reserved white wine/shrimp liquid. Turn shrimp over, return to heat and cook just briefly, then remove while they are still underdone.

Reduce liquid in pan to about 2 tablespoons. Add cream and vegetables, return shrimp and any accumulated juices to sauce and bring to a boil. Remove shrimp and vegetables to serving dishes. Reduce sauce to about ½ cup. Adjust seasoning with salt and pepper, pour over shrimp and serve.

Sanford "Sandy"D'Amato, chef/co-owner of Sanford Restaurant, 1547 N. Jackson St., Coquette Cafe, 316 N. Milwaukee St., and Harlequin Bakery, is a James Beard Award winner. For more information, visit www.sanfordrestaurant.com.

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Shrimp dish good enough for jumbo billboard - JSOnline

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