We were having a small get-together with friends in our home the evening before Thanksgiving. Since we were hosting a sit-down dinner the following evening, we wanted to stick with tapas or hors d’oeuvres for the party.
When offering an array of dishes, I like to prepare as much in advance as possible without sacrificing flavor. With that I mind, I decided to prepare several of the offerings sous vide. A couple of ideas came to mind right away: meatballs, ribs, and perhaps a beautiful tenderloin of beef.
But before I put the “meats” in the water bath, I thought I’d try my hand at a potted shrimp. The “potted” part comes from the small pots in which preserved meats and fish were traditionally stored. Here the copious amounts of butter would have served as the preservative, essentially smothering the shrimp and retarding bacterial growth.
Since I’d previously made shrimp sous vide, I knew the shellfish would be tender, succulent, and just plain delicious. And it was.
Makes about 3 cups
- Preheat the water bath to 140°F (60°C).
- Pat the shrimp dry and place in a medium bowl. Add the garlic, lemon, parsley, pimentón, piment d’Espelette, 2 tablespoons of cold butter, lemon juice, and garlic oil, if using. Mix together thoroughly and transfer to a large zip-lock bag. Seal using the water displacement method, or simply press out as much air from the bag as possible before sealing.
- Cook for 20 minutes.
- Transfer the cooked shrimp to the bowl of a food processor, reserving all of the liquid. Allow the shrimp to cool for about 15 minutes. Add the remaining 8 tablespoons of butter to the shrimp. Begin to pulse and roughly chop the mixture, making sure that you are not puréeing the ingredients, until everything is simply well combined and incorporated. Taste the spread. Add the reserved shrimp liquid 1 or 2 teaspoons at a time, tasting after each addition. I used the all of the liquid. Taste and adjust the seasoning with a further sprinkling of sea salt, if necessary, and a good grind or two of fresh pepper.
- Transfer the mixture to a serving bowl or several small ramekins. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 1 hour. The spread will keep in the refrigerator for up to 2 days, or freeze for several months. Bring to room temperature before serving with crackers or grilled bread.