Flavors of The Big Easy for the 3rd Friday of Lent

Something interesting happened during the first lock-down in California. Unlike other lock-downs that have followed, during that first one Hubby worked from home and Kiddo was temporarily out of work. As you can imagine, the Event Industry came to an immediate girding halt.

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Our Lady of Guadalupe

Today is the Feast Day of Our Lady of Guadalupe. If we were in Mexico, nine days ago would have marked the first day of the Novena to Honor the Virgin of Guadalupe. We would have lit a candle each day for nine days, said prayers and sought intervention through our Blessed Mother that she may gain favor with her Son.

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Sizzling Chili-Garlic Shrimp on a Bed of Rice

How would you like to have dinner on the table in under ten minutes? Mind you, this doesn’t count for the time it takes to peel, devein and remove the tails from your shrimp. If you do that little chore in the morning or the night before, then cook to serve is under ten (count ’em 10) minutes.

Excuse me while I rant just a moment on the subject of shrimp. I have a real pet peeve about shrimp served with their tails on. Mind you, there is a place for tails. Grilled shrimp kabobs look great with their little tails intact. That’s fine, you’re pulling the shrimp off the skewers anyway. Serving shrimp cocktails? By all means leave the tails on – they make great little handles, the better to dip into the cocktail sauce with. Country Low Boil on the menu? Between the crab, the ears of corn and all that other stuff going on in the bucket, there’s a lot of finger eating happening anyhow. How about shrimp tacos? No! The last thing I want to do is to spend the time ripping off the tails BEFORE I can enjoy my tacos or pulling them out of my mouth afterward. It drives me nuts when the tails remain for no other reason than someone didn’t want to take the time to pull them off and now it’s my as the diner to do so. There, I feel so much better . . .

The shrimp in this dish is nicely spiced. The sauce is warm with Chile flakes and bits of garlic. The butter adds yet another layer of goodness. White wine – perfect for the base. This dish has so much going on. No single flavor over-powers any other, all coming together to create a beautiful symphony in your mouth. You can taste it all – the rice, the shrimp, the spice of the red pepper flakes, the bits of garlic and butter and wine – incredible! And it is fast – super fast to make.

I’ve made this dish a time or two, and I’ve played around with over the years. My latest take on the dish includes a couple of drops of Ghost Pepper Garlic Sauce. On a recent trip to San Francisco’s Pier 39, we stopped at a shop that carried all things Pepper – different sauces, spices, dips – all designed to set your mouth on fire. I sampled some of the Ghost Pepper Garlic Sauce and wow! Picked up a bottle of this awesome sauce on the spot. Since this shrimp is made with red pepper flakes and chopped garlic anyway, it seemed the perfect time to use my newly acquired hot sauce. You could use Louisianan Hot Sauce, or leave it out entirely. The dish is plenty spicy without it. As for the rice – Uncle Ben’s Ready Rice cooks in about 90 seconds, and comes in a variety of flavors. The Rice Pilaf or the Long Grain and Wild Rice both work equally well.

Chile-Garlic Shrimp over Long Grain Wild Rice
1 1/2 pounds large shrimp, peeled and deveined, tails removed (about 28-30)
Salt to taste
Black pepper to taste
1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
3 large garlic cloves, sliced
1 bay leaf
1/2 cup dry white wine
2 tablespoons Lemon Juice
2 drops Ghost Pepper Garlic Sauce (optional)

2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
1 tablespoon butter
1 Lemon, cut into wedges
2 Packages Uncle Ben’s Ready Rice 

Sprinkle salt and black pepper evenly over shrimp.

Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat.

Add shrimp, red pepper, garlic, and bay leaf to pan; cook 3 minutes, stirring frequently. Add wine and lemon to pan. Increase heat to medium-high, and bring to a simmer; cook until liquid is reduced to a saucy consistency (about 3 to 4 minutes).

While liquid reduces, make rice. Each package takes 90 seconds in the microwave. (Three minutes total – the same amount of time it takes to reduce the wine sauce) Leave rice in vented packages to keep warm until ready to serve.

Remove shrimp pan from heat. Discard bay leaf.

Add butter and stir until melted by the residual heat in the pan. 

Open cooked rice packages. Spread rice onto a rimmed platter. Arrange shrimp over rice bed. Pour pan sauce over rice and shrimp. Garnish with lemon wedges and chopped parsley. Serve and enjoy.


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