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Tasso Shrimp

Chef Jamie Shannon’s too-short career (he died tragically of cancer at age 40, in the prime of his life) brought many good dishes to the menu at Commander’s Palace. This is one of his best. It looks simple: three shrimp on a minimal sauce. But it explodes with flavor. The tasso is a Cajun-style ham cured to be very spicy, smoky, and salty. It’s used more as a seasoning than as a meat. I’d recommend Chef Paul Prudhomme’s brand, which is available in stores and by mail order.

  • 6 Tbs. softened butter
  • Pinch of chopped garlic
  • Pinch of chopped shallots (or onion)
  • 1 Tbs. Crystal Hot Sauce
  • 1 tsp. whipping cream
  • 24 jumbo shrimp, shelled and deveined
  • 4 oz. tasso, sliced into matchstick-size pieces
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 Tbs. salt
  • Vegetable oil for frying
  • 1/4 cup pepper jelly

1. In a pan over medium-low heat, sauté garlic and shallots in a little butter for a minute. Add hot sauce and bring to a boil. Cook until very little liquid is left. Add cream and cook about one more minute.

2. Remove from the heat and whisk in the softened butter, a little at a time, until it takes on a creamy consistency. This is beurre blanc. Keep warm.

3. Cut a slit down the back of each shrimp and insert a strip of tasso. Close the slit with a toothpick.

4. Mix the salt into the flour in a wide bowl. Dust the shrimp with the seasoned flour.

5. In a skillet, fry the shrimp in oil heated to about 375 degrees. Drain.

6. Place the cooked shrimp in a bowl with the beurre blanc. Toss to coat.

7. Spread a thin film of pepper jelly on the bottom of a small dish and arrange three shrimp on each plate. Garnish with pickled okra or pickled green beans.

Serves eight.

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