Wednesday, April 09, 2014

My Grandmommy's Shrimp in Beer

Very often, when my family came together for a celebratory meal when I was growing up, that meal would be shrimp in beer. My grandparents & their friends had been sharing this meal for years before I was even born, probably even before my mom was born. When she was a kid, she always loved the "potato chip dip" that went with the shrimp, a mixture of softened cream cheese, prepared horseradish, & chopped scallions. The kids were always delighted to get to have the special treat of chips dipped in the shrimp dip. Me, too. It also made waiting for the beer brew to cook long enough to be shrimp-ready easier. 

We love to turn other folks on to this delicious dinner, so when my mom's dear friend from college was given a big bunch of fresh-caught shrimp while we were visiting her in St. Pete, we quickly chimed in with our suggestion of what to do with it all! Laura ran with it, getting enthused about the recipe and inviting a bunch of her wonderful artist friends to an impromptu supper party! We had a ball! Of course, we had to call my grandmom for the recipe, as we'd not yet learned it by heart. 

I don't remember, besides potato chips, what we used to have with the shrimp. However, when we had it last night, I paired it with another childhood favorite, parmesan rice. My mom made this Frances Moore Lappé recipe often and, once I was a teenager, I began making it, too. It's tart and cheesy and I could cheerfully eat an entire pan of it. My BFF, Lesley, came over just about every weekend to spend the night. We usually cooked & a lot of the time, it was this rice and artichoke hearts cold from the can. In fact, when I recently offered to make Les a birthday dinner, that was her request. I still owe her that one. I can't imagine that you won't love it, too.

I usually just throw together a green salad, but you could also serve it with the ramen salad I just made for a potluck being held tomorrow at Jeannene's workplace. It's very easy and people always really like it. I first had it at a volunteer recognition luncheon potluck when my boys were in elementary school. Another dish I had for the first time that day was strawberry pretzel salad. It's that kind of Middle America dish that is terrible in concept and delicious in execution.

Shrimp in Beer
6 cans/bottles beer (12 oz. each---don't use light beer or any speciality beers. My grandmama usually used Budweiser.)
1 heaping tsp. salt
2 heaping tbsp. onion powder
2 heaping tbsp. garlic powder
2 heaping tbsp. celery seed
2 heaping tbsp. mustard seed
2 heaping tbsp. dry mustard
2-4 allspice berries
2-4 peppercorns
4-5 lb. raw shrimp (shells & tails on, deveined)

Bring beer and spices to a boil in a big pot. Cover and simmer 20 minutes. Add shrimp and simmer until they all turn pink, then remove from hot liquid immediately. Serve piping hot with "potato chip dip." Serves 8-10.

Parmesan Rice
2/3 c. long grain rice (brown or white), cooked as usual
2 tbsp. butter, melted
1 egg, beaten
1/4 c. grated parmesan
Juice of 1 lemon
Pepper, to taste

Mix the butter into the rice. Mix the other ingredients together. Blend with the rice and cook 5-7 minutes to cook egg and heat through. Serve hot! Serves 2.

Ramen Salad
8 oz. coleslaw mix
1 package ramen noodles, crushed
1/2 c. sunflower seeds or slivered almonds (or both!)
1/2 c. vegetable oil
1/4 c. apple cider vinegar
1/8 c. sugar

Mix together the coleslaw mix, noodles, and sunflower seeds/almonds. Mix the ramen flavor packet (or use your own seasonings, for a less sodium-laden and no-MSG option---maybe a little ginger, some Chinese 5-spice, garlic powder, and crushed red pepper), oil, vinegar, and sugar. Add to salad and mix well. Chill at least 2 hours before serving. Serves 4-6.

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