Monday, February 19, 2007

Chipotle Shrimp = A party at Laura's

There are 3 things I am fairly obsessed with right now; Rick Bayless, chipotle and shrimp. Rick, my man, the man, has never steered me wrong when creating something out of his cookbooks. His brilliant, vibrant recipes are always amazing and fairly easy to prepare. I rarely have to buy something in the ingredient list that is not already a staple in my kitchen.

As far as chipotle, if you have yet to dive into the craze, please, I beg of you, join the crowd. There is a good reason EVERYTHING these days is chipotle. The rich spice and tangy burn are heaven to the taste buds. Of course if you have an aversion to spicy foods, this recipe is definitely not for you. But, I have found when making other recipes with chipotle you can use the adobo sauce and it still gives you the rich chipotle flavor minus the heat.

Shrimp, well, that is a life long obsession!

This past weekend Laura's sisters and mother came into town. She called me days in advance to talk about the menu for Saturday night's get-together. She had already scoped out the chipotle shrimp recipe from Rick's Mexican Everyday cookbook. So, while on the phone with her, we both opened our identical cookbooks and reviewed options. She decided to make Green Chile Chicken Soft Tacos as an accompaniment; the shrimp was to be the crowning glory of the night.
So Saturday night came, we got a late start, but that was not to detour her, the shrimp would get made! Shrimp were ready for preparation, everybody was starving (and a little tipsy); when she went into the pantry to get the chipotle chiles...they were gone. Turns out I had ganked them from her about a month ago. (Yikes, sorry Lar.)

A look of devastation crossed her face, what were we to do? There had been so much build-up about the chipotle shrimp, so much anticipation of the dish; it was if the entire night was pulsing toward the heat of the peppers. Well, as all good new boyfriends do, Tom came to our rescue! Quick as lighting, he hopped in his car and jetted to WalMart at 9:30 at night for chipotle peppers in adobo sauce. Props Tom, you saved the day. After his swift return, as about as swift as one can be at WalMart, Laura finally finishes the dish.

It was all we had anticipated and more, so much more. The flavors satisfied our craving for newness and for comfort. Laura was able to share her culinary genius with her family and we were blessed to partake in not just a meal, but also a work of art.

This is the first of my blog recipes I have not actually made myself. But I trust Laura as I do myself in the kitchen. Besides, all that were present that night feel as if we were in some way participants in the nights events.

The shrimp is spicy hot, the kind of hot that leaves the corners of your mouth burning just a bit. Worth every single bite, and 10 more if you have enough shrimp for everyone.

Rick suggests you serve over white rice. I suggest you serve with a very cold very dark ale!

Chipotle Shrimp

1 15-ounce can diced tomatoes in juice (preferable fire-roasted), drained
2 to 3 canned chipotle chiles en adobo
1-tablespoon chipotle canning sauce
2 tablespoons vegetable oil or olive oil
3 garlic cloves, peeled and finely chopped or crushed through a garlic press
About 1 ½ cups fish or chicken broth or water
1 to 1 ¼ pounds medium-large shrimp (21 to 25 shrimp per pound) peeled and deveined, tail on if you wish
About ¼ cup roughly chopped cilantro, for garnish

1. Pour the drained tomatoes into a blender. Add the chipotle chiles and chipotle canning sauce. Process until smooth.

2. In a very large skillet heat the oil over medium. Add the garlic and stir until fragrant and golden, about 1 minute. Pour in the tomato mixture. Cook, stirring frequently, for 5 minutes to allow the flavors to meld. Add enough broth or water to achieve a light tomato sauce consistency. Taste and season highly with salt, usually about 1 teaspoon.

3. Add the shrimp to the pan. Cook stirring nearly constantly, until the shrimp are cooked through, about 4 minutes. Stir in a little more broth or water if the sauce has thickened too much.
4. Scoop out onto dinner plates and sprinkle with cilantro.

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