Nominated for a 2011 James Beard Cookbook Award in the American Cooking category. For a list of all the finalists check out our James Beard Finalists' Guide.
Recipe from Pig: King of the Southern Table by James Villas (Wiley, 2010)Tasting like a cross between shrimp and lobster, the rock shrimp harvested off Florida's Atlantic and Gulf coasts are now processed with special equipment to remove the hard shells and sand veins and are available not only throughout Florida but in the finest seafood markets elsewhere. Of course, the rich, delectable shrimp are relished locally in chowders, omelettes, salads, and pies, but never did I appreciate them more than when they were combined with premium bacon and sherry in this creamy casserole served one day in Tampa. Remember that rock shrimp are very perishable and should be used within a day of purchase. The casserole is also delicious made with ordinary white or brown fresh shrimp. Note: four individual ramekins or crocks could be used in place of a casserole for this recipe.
Makes 4 servings
1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Butter a 1½-quart casserole and set aside.
- 6 to 8 slices lean applewood-smoked bacon
- 1½ cups half-and-half
- ½ cup bottled clam juice
- 2 tablespoons dry sherry
- 2½ cups crumbled soda crackers
- 12 tablespoons (1½ sticks) butter, melted
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
- Tabasco sauce to taste
- 1½ pounds fresh rock shrimp, shelled and deveined
2. In a skillet, fry the bacon over moderate heat till almost crisp. Drain on paper towels and chop coarsely.
3. In a bowl, combine the half-and-half, clam juice, and sherry, stir well, and set aside. In another bowl, combine the cracker crumbs and butter, season with salt and pepper and Tabasco, and set aside.
4. Sprinkle about a third of the crumbs over the bottom of the prepared casserole, arrange half the shrimp on top, sprinkle half the bacon over the shrimp, and pour half the half-and-half mixture over the top. Add another third of the crumbs, arrange the remaining shrimp on top, sprinkle on the remaining bacon, pour on the remaining half-and-half mixture, and top with the remaining crumbs. Bake till bubbly and lightly browned, about
5. Serve piping hot.