I learned this recipe when i briefly lived in New Orleans as a young woman. It was served in a local casual restaurant, where I was told that the bayou and marsh shrimp had shells so fragile they could be eaten. The butter is mixed with oil to raise the temperature of the butter and the shrimp is cooked so the shells are crisp to chew. I doubt many of those extra-tender shrimp are available for home cooks, so prepare to discard the shells. A newspaper-covered table is the best place to eat this meal. Plenty of napkins are a necessity. — Nathalie Dupree
2 cups butter
1/4 cup oil, cook’s preference
3 garlic cloves, chopped
2 tablespoons chopped fresh or dried rosemary
3 teaspoons chopped fresh herbs such as basil, thyme, oregano
1 small hot pepper, chopped or hot sauce
2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
2 bay leaves, crumbled
2 tablespoons paprika
2 pounds shell-on raw shrimp
Crusty French-style bread
Melt the butter and oil in a flameproof baking dish. Add all ingredients except the shrimp, salt, and bread. Bring to a boil. Turn the heat down and simmer 10 minutes, stirring frequently. Remove the dish from the heat and let the flavors marry at least 30 minutes. This hot butter sauce can be made up to several days in advance and refrigerated.
Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Reheat the sauce, add the shrimp, cook over medium heat until the shrimp just turn pink, and then bake them in the oven about 15 minutes or so, until shrimp are pink and cooked through. Taste for seasoning, adding salt if necessary. Serve with the sauce and plenty of bread.
Variation: If peel ahead you must, then adapt the cooking time, cooking the shrimp just until pink, 2-5 minutes.