Roasted Shrimp Cocktail

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Shrimp and cocktail sauce. A classic combination. A timeless appetizer. And actually very entertainer friendly.

Most of us have one oven in our kitchens, which for a holiday or even regular dinner party can prove challenging when preparing appetizers. Since most pastry dough appetizers need to be baked and served immediately, they are pretty much out of the equation when a roast or turkey are the main dish for a dinner or holiday spread. That's why a classic shrimp cocktail is always a great go-to appetizer. The shrimp can be prepared and cooked in advanced and chilled (or served at room temperature) and the sauce can be prepared even up to 3 days in advance. Who doesn't love that?

Ina Garten's recipe for shrimp cocktail calls to roast the shrimp as opposed to boiling them. It's true - by roasting, you really get to extract the natural sweet flavor of shrimp. And believe it or not, you're less like to overcook the shrimp when you're roasting it; boiling it is to direct that if you overboil for even 10 seconds, the shrimp will be rubbery and tough. Roasting really gets a nice and soft shrimp that retains its natural sweetness. Guaranteed, this will become a favorite appetizer for you too.

Roasted Shrimp Cocktail by Ina Garten
2 pounds shrimp
1 Tbsp olive oil
black pepper

1/2 cup chili sauce (recommended Heinz)
1/2 cup ketchup
3 Tbsp prepared horseradish
2 tsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
1/4 tsp hot sauce (recommended Tobasco)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Peel and devein the shrimp. Toss them in olive oil and spread out on a baking sheet. Season with salt and pepper and roast 8-10 minutes until pink and just cooked through. Set aside.

Combine the chili sauce, ketchup, horseradish, lemon juice, Worcestershire sauce and hot sauce in a small bowl. Serve as a dip with the shrimp.

My Notes:
For a really spicy sauce, use a tablespoon of Sriracha chili sauce instead of the Heinz sauce.

Make sure to use grated prepared horseradish, not the cream horseradish.

Always use freshly sqeezed lemon juice; never concentrate! Especially when making a dipping sauce where freshness is key for good flavor!

Shrimp can be cooked ahead of time and then just served at room temperature. Cocktail sauce can be made 3 days in advanced and refrigerated.

The Champagne Cocktail: Updating A Classic

French champagne. Sparkling wine. Cava. Wherever it comes from and whatever you call it, I love it. And although great on its own, a little bubbly can add something special to an otherwise Been There Done That cocktail. Here are some versions I love, and with the holidays coming up right around the corner, they're a great choice for a main drink for a party or a fun twist to accompany traditional foods.

Pomegranate Champagne Cocktail
1.5 ounce pomegranate juice
1 ounce vodka
champagne, well chilled

Add the pomegranate juice and vodka in a champagne flute (or small wine glass). Top with champagne (or sparkling wine or cava) and serve immediately. Great with appetizers and for holiday cocktail parties.

Caribbean Mimosa
2 ounces tropical fruit juice blend (orange, pineapple, guava, passion fruit, etc.)
champagne, well chilled
fresh pineapple cut into 1 inch cubes

Pour the fruit juice into a champagne flute. Top off with champagne and then gently drop a pineapple cube into the bottom of the glass. Serve. This is really great for a breakfast or brunch cocktail, especially with a seafood omelet or fresh fruit platter and freshly baked croissants.

Bourbon Cooler
1 ounce good bourbon (recommended: Maker's Mark or Knob Creek)
1 ounce freshly squeeze orange juice
1 Tbsp good maple syrup (or simple syrup or sugar cube)
champagne or sparkling wine, chilled
orange peel for garnish

Combine the bourbon, orange juice and maple syrup in a shaker and add ice. Shake vigorously for 1 minute and pour into chilled wine glass. Top with chilled sparkling wine and garnish with orange peel. This is a great cocktail to brighten up dreary winter months when citrus fruits are at their peek of sweetness. Serve for a brunch with french toast casserole and maple bacon.

All the above recipes are for single cocktails. To prepare for 2 or 4 or 6 or more people, simpley multiple the amounts by that number. So for example, to make 4 Bourbon Coolers, combine 4 ounces of bourbon, 4 ounces of orange juice, and 4 tablespoons of maple syrup in a shaker and then individually distribute the mixture into 4 seperate glasses, then top each with the sparkling wine and garnish.

And for non-alcoholic versions, substitute the champagne with sparkking water like Pellegrino or better yet, gingerale!