Thursday, June 20, 2013

Red Hot, South Texas, Shrimp en Escabache

I move to Cave Creek thirty-three years ago.  Our son Joey had just been born and Kathy and I had opened up a small plant nursery next to my family’s natural food store and juice bar.  In those days Cave Creek and Carefree combined had a wintertime population of about 5000, which dropped down to 2000 in the summer.  The first real friend and resource I made in town was long time resident Bill Payne.  Bill is a first class welder and true “shade tree” mechanic.  Many times he has gotten up in the middle of the night and driven out to the some dirt road where I was broken down.  He then crawled through mud or cactus to wire and duct taped my truck back together and then helped me limp it back home.  Bill is one of the few people I know that can speak from an educated standpoint on both the finer points if Mesquite wood cooking and Tequila.  Those of us that know and appreciate the contribution that a guy like Bill represents in the vanishing old time Cave Creek landscape have enjoyed his unique point of view.  He has worked and lived in this beautiful desert (the non-air conditioned one) all his life.  I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been talking with Bill when he has shared his brilliant thoughts on small town life.  One of my favorite quotes from bill occurred one unusually hot summer day.  In true Bill fashion he remarked, “ I like the heat, it gets rid of the amateurs!” 
Weather you love it or dread it, the hot weather is here, so I thought I’d share a great recipe for those sweltering days when you just don’t feel like cooking.

Red Hot, South Texas, Shrimp en Escabache
Although this is a great appetizer we love it on butter lettuce with a few slices of avocado, warm bread (especially my bread) and a good crisp sauvignon blanc!

1 Lemon, sliced
1-cup celery tops
½ cup crab boil
1 ½ Tbl. Kosher salt
½ tsp black pepper
2 ½ Lbs raw medium shrimp, peeled and de-veined

2 medium white onions, sliced thin
12 bay leaves
1 ¾ cups canola oil
2 cups white vinegar
1 ½ Tbl. sea salt
1 Tbl. Crushed red chile
2 tsp. Pink peppercorn
1/3 cup capers, brine
¼ cup celery seeds
15 cloves garlic, cut in half
2 sprigs fresh thyme
8-10 pickled bird peppers or 2 pickled Jalapeno chiles, cut in quarters lengthwise
5 dashes Tabasco sauce
1 tsp. White pepper
1 tsp. Black pepper

Fill a stockpot half way and add the lemon, celery, crab boil, kosher salt and black pepper.  Bring to a rolling boil and then add the shrimp.  Stir well and then remove from heat.  Allow shrimp to stew in the hot liquid for 10 minutes and then remove shrimp and plunge in ice bath to stop cooking. Drain the shrimp well.  In a glass bowl layer the shrimp, onion slices, and bay leaves.  Emulsify the oil, vinegar and salt, either with an electric hand whisk, or in the blender.  Then stir in remaining ingredients.  Pour over layered shrimp.  Cover and refrigerate for 24 to 48 hours, stirring every 6 to 8 hours. 
Serves 8 as an appetizer 

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