Wednesday, September 28, 2011
The term Indian Summer is thrown around a lot right now. Near as I can tell it is the last few days of September when the days feel like summer and the nights fall. Well here in New Orleans, it is still just hot, but there are rumors of fall in the air. Sunday afternoon was one of those perfect Indian Summer days and it was time to grill. But this time in lieu of beef, pork, or chicken, we opted to grill shrimp.
Mad Max had provided the perfect wine for grilled shrimp. As the man himself says,"The 2008 Pinot Blanc from cult winemaker, Robert Foley, is vinified with total focus on the fruit characteristics of the Pinot Blanc grape - effusive peach and gardenia blossom notes in the bouquet, a broad and fresh mouth feel with a lingering fruity finish. The wine was vinified entirely in stainless steel to preserve the freshness of fruit, no oak barrels, no malolactic fermentation." You can find it at Carte des Vins, Rib Room, Stella!, Herbsaint, NOLA, and Coquette. This wine retails for around $25 and is best drank out of a mason jar to complete the summertime ensemble.
Good enough for good times I say. The recipe we used came out of Mario Batali's excellent Italian Grill cookbook. It is really more of a technique than a recipe as he uses it throughout the book to add a crunchy, charred crust to proteins. As you will see below, a bread crumb sort of pesto kicks ass on the grill. Batali also calls for a piastra- a flat metal sheet over a roaring fire- in this recipe. Not having one and channeling inner MacGyver, I just flipped over a cast iron skillet and used its flat underside.
Shrimp Spiedini alla Romagnola
First combine 1 bunch of Italian parsley, 1 bunch basil, 2 cups fresh bread crumbs, a hefty pinch of salt, black pepper, and 1/4 cup of olive oil. I added a little bit of lemon zest because yellow and green look good together. You blend all of that into a paste in a food processor, blender, or mortar and pestle, if you aren't into that whole brevity thing. Toss two pounds of peeled and deveined shrimp into this paste and coat well.
Now thread the shrimp onto some rosemary sprigs that you have removed the leaves from and soaked in water. Or you could use bamboo skewers. Or if you are afraid of pokey things, just place them directly on grill. After skewering all the shrimp, leave in the fridge for about 30 minutes while you get your fire cranking.
Take a cast iron pan (or piastra if you fancy), flip it over and place it over the hottest part of the grill. Let it get hot, brush on some olive oil, and then place the skewers on the makeshift piastra. Cook 2 minutes per side. Serve with a salad- here I did a grilled Caesar. The shrimp come out the perfect love child between grilled shrimp and fried shrimp, with little clumps of charred bread and a zip of "pesto". It is the perfect dish for an Indian Summer's Eve....Wait, that didn't come out right.