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How to Make “Barbecued” Shrimp, According to Culinary Historian Toni Tipton-Martin

The author and historian shares a recipe from her outstanding book.

louisiana barbecued shrimp Photo: courtesy Jerrelle Guy

To write her James Beard Award-winning book The Jemima Code, journalist and historian Toni Tipton-Martin studied two centuries worth of African-American cookbooks to understand their impact on cooking in America. As a follow-up to that history, the 2021 Julia Child Award recipient adapted recipes from that cache of cookbooks to create guides for the modern kitchen that she called Jubilee. Each entry is an interesting little education about how certain dishes and traditions came to be as they passed through the African diaspora. Like how British pasties evolving into everyday little meatpies in the Caribbean and then spread into the States. Or how Edna Lewis put her own imprint on beef Borgognone with grated onions and an onion studded with cloves. And below she shares shrimp recipe that will transport you to New Orleans.

You won’t find any barbecue sauce in the late model/chef/restaurateur B. Smith’s dish of shrimp in spiced butter sauce: “Barbecue shrimp” is just the name Louisiana Creole cooks assigned to shrimp braised in wine, beer, or a garlic-butter sauce. I like to make this dish spicy, in a cast-iron skillet, and served in shallow bowls with hunks of crisp French bread to soak up the sauce. It’s classic NOLA. Shaking the pan back and forth during cooking time is a trick that helps give the sauce more body than stirring.

Louisiana Barbecued Shrimp

Jubilee cover

Photo: courtesy Clarkson Party


Serves 2 to 4

  • 5 tsp. cayenne pepper
  • 25 tsp. black pepper
  • 5 tsp. salt
  • 25 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
  • 5 tsp. dried thyme 0.5 tsp. dried oregano
  • 25 tsp. paprika
  • 2 bay leaves, crushed
  • 4 tbsp. (0.5 stick) butter
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 25 c. white wine
  • 5 c. fish stock
  • 2 tbsp. fresh lemon juice
  • 2 tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 lb. shell-on shrimp
  • 2 tbsp. minced fresh parsley
  • Hot crusty French bread, for serving

In a small bowl, combine the cayenne, black pepper, salt, red pepper flakes, thyme, oregano, paprika, and bay leaves.

In a large cast-iron skillet, heat the butter over medium-high until melted and sizzling. Add the garlic, seasoning mixture, wine, fish stock, lemon juice, and Worcestershire sauce. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer until the sauce thickens enough to lightly coat a spoon, about 5 to 7 minutes; shake the pan as it cooks to help bring the sauce together. 

Add the shrimp, reduce the heat to low, and cook, turning once, until the shrimp turn pink and firm, 3 to 5 minutes.

Sprinkle the shrimp with the parsley and serve immediately with hot French bread

This recipe was excerpted from Toni Tipton-Martin’s Jubilee: Recipes from Two Centuries of African American Cooking, published by Clarkson Potter.

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