Recipe: No need for a party to have shrimp cocktail
Published: February 19, 2014 01:01AM
Updated: February 19, 2014 08:34PM
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This Feb. 3, 2014 photo shows shrimp cocktail with "Bloody Mary" sauce in Concord, N.H. (AP Photo/Matthew Mead)

There’s no reason you have to wait for fancy parties to enjoy a shrimp cocktail appetizer. All you need is an excuse. And to me, there’s none better than an Oscar viewing party. You don’t even have to cook the shrimp yourself (but it is better if you do).

My preference is for large or jumbo shrimp, generally classified as 10 to 15 shrimp per pound. Large usually come in at 15 to 30 per pound.

The best shrimp are flash frozen within hours of being caught. This preserves the flavor and texture of the shrimp. Keep the shrimp frozen until just before you want to serve or cook them. When you are ready, thaw the shrimp under cold running water. This is essential to preserving the texture of the shrimp.

For shrimp cocktail, I cook the shrimp by a method that is closer to poaching. I want the shrimp to be fully cooked, but not over-cooked and this is my fail-safe method. I boil a big pot of salted water and add fresh lemons just before adding the thawed shrimp. As soon as the shrimp are added, the lid goes on the pot and the heat is turned off until the shrimp are cooked, about 3 to 4 minutes for most jumbo shrimp.

Once the shrimp are cooked, I dunk them in cold water to stop the cooking. You know when shrimp are perfectly cooked when the shells come off easily. The shells tend to stick to over-cooked shrimp.

Keep the peeled shrimp dry and cold in the refrigerator, then serve with homemade cocktail sauce.

Shrimp cocktail with Bloody Mary sauce

This sweet and smoky, tart and tangy Bloody Mary sauce is so good you will want to drink it — or adopt it as both your house cocktail sauce and the mixer for your favorite eye opener. Rim your serving dish with celery salt before serving for a special presentation and that hint of celery.

Kosher salt

2 lemons, quartered

2 pounds jumbo shell-on raw shrimp, thawed if frozen

For the sauce:

1/2 cup ketchup

1/2 cup Heinz Chili Sauce

Zest and juice of 1 small lemon

Juice of 1/2 small lime

1 heaping tablespoon prepared white horseradish (or more to taste)

1 teaspoon pureed chipotle peppers in adobo (or more to taste)

2 tablespoons (1 ounce) vodka

1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce

Pinch garlic salt

Celery salt, for serving

Fill a large (6- to 8-quart) stockpot halfway with water, then add 2 tablespoons of salt. Bring to a boil. Add the lemons, then return the water to a boil. Add the shrimp, turn off the heat and cover the pot. Leave the shrimp in the water for 2 to 4 minutes, or until cooked through, pink and curled. The larger the shrimp, the longer they will take to cook.

Use a slotted spoon to transfer the shrimp to a large bowl. Add enough cold water to cover the shrimp, then stir to cool them. When the shrimp are cool, peel and devein them, then pat them dry and transfer to a platter or plate. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

To make the sauce, in a medium non-reactive bowl, mix together the ketchup, chili sauce, lemon juice and zest, lime juice, horseradish, pureed chipotle, vodka, Worcestershire and garlic salt. Taste and adjust seasonings. If you like a lot of horseradish and chipotle, you may want to add more. The sauce can be made and refrigerated in a glass jar up to one week in advance.

Sprinkle celery salt around the rim of a serving dish. Transfer the cocktail sauce to a serving bowl and place in the center of the serving dish. Arrange the chilled shrimp around the edges.

Start to finish • 20 minutes

Servings • 6

Nutrition information per serving • 230 calories; 25 calories from fat (11 percent of total calories); 3 g fat (0.5 g saturated; 0 g trans fats); 230 mg cholesterol; 14 g carbohydrate; 0 g fiber; 10 g sugar; 31 g protein; 1150 mg sodium.