Fire up the Barbecue

Lent is a perfect time for New Orleans-style barbecue shrimp.

Every year on Ash Wednesday, Monique Gideon thinks about her father's recipe for New Orleans-style barbecue shrimp. Her father, Al Giroir, died 12 years ago, and making the shrimp helps Gideon keep his memory alive. The recipe was one of his favorite crowd pleasers while Gideon was growing up in Baton Rouge, along with Cajun staples like jambalaya and étouffée. With plenty of French bread (and no silverware necessary), the shrimp are perfect for a family dinner or an informal party. Gideon also serves them using fresh Gulf shrimp every summer during her family's vacation to Destin, Fla.

A stop at Breaux's Penny Saver on Ash Wednesday yielded some nice-sized shrimp with the heads still on. After deheading and washing the shrimp, the rest of the dish is fairly simple. "You put the shrimp in a dry pot, no oil or cooking spray, and cook them until they are pink," Gideon says. "Then you add the seasoning, pour the melted butter on top and boil for three to four minutes. You turn off the heat, cover it and it's done."

Variations of the barbecued shrimp recipe call for dried herbs in the butter sauce and baking the dish in the oven. But no matter how it's made, guests are sure to be licking their fingers. (The dish should be served with plenty of napkins or bowls of water for rinsing the hands.) The shrimp mixture also leaves a good amount of spicy butter sauce in the bottom of the pot, perfect for dipping French bread.

In addition to watching her father cook as a child, Gideon also learned her way around the kitchen from her mother, Audrey. Both parents were exceptional cooks; her mother made the family dinners like smothered chicken, spaghetti, gumbo and pork chops, while her father cooked the party foods, like huge jambalaya portions and the barbecued shrimp.

"He wouldn't let anybody help," Gideon says, but she learned from watching him. Gideon also took up baking, and says, "I love to bake cookies and bars, peanut butter bars, and brownies and different kinds of cakes."

Her husband, Kyle, never enjoyed cooking until he married into her family and met her father. Now, Monique and Kyle spend time in the kitchen together just as her mother and father did. "He loves to do my dad's recipes," she says. The family will be enjoying the barbecued shrimp and other seafood recipes like shrimp and okra gumbo through Easter and into the summer.

New Orleans Style Bar-B-Que Shrimp

4 pounds shrimp, deheaded in shell

4 sticks butter

1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce

1/2 teaspoon salt

4 teaspoons black pepper

Wash and drain the shrimp well. Once fully drained, place the shrimp in a large Magnalite pot. Cook over medium to medium-high heat, stirring often until the shrimp are pink. Turn off heat. In a small pot, melt the butter over low heat. Set aside. Cover shrimp with garlic powder, Worcestershire sauce, salt and pepper. Pour the melted butter over seasoned shrimp. Cook over high heat until boiling. Reduce to medium heat. Cook for three to four more minutes, stirring occasionally to prevent butter from burning and shrimp from sticking. Remove from heat and cover. Let stand 20 to 30 minutes. The longer the shrimp soak, the more they absorb the spices. Serve with hot, toasted French bread to sop up the sauce.

For more information about The Junior League of Lafayette's cookbooks, call 988-2739.