We just celebrated my son’s birthday. As I’ve been doing since my sons were celebrating their first trips around the sun, I prepared the dinner that he requested. Birthdays have always been kind of a big deal in our family. When the boys were growing up, there was the “friends party” and the family dinner. We lived in a family dense complex in California and friends were as close as walking out the front door. The common courtyard was always alive with kids having fun. Even adults got into the act. (No apologies,..it was the 80’s)
I was (in)famous for my themed parties that always featured the appropriately themed cake. From dinosaurs to super heroes I did it all…and Ninja Turtles twice. Whatever the boys were into, I was right there with a sheet cake. It’s amazing what you can do with a cake mix, food coloring, and decorating icing tubes.
Once the “friend party” was over, there was the family dinner. As soon as they were old enough to make the request, I prepared whatever meal they wanted. Yes, there were times that we had pizza or macaroni and cheese. Then there was the time we had Big Macs. I’m sure grandma was glad she flew over 2000 miles for that taste treat. The boys grew up and their palates expanded. Artichokes, crab, and Fettuccine Alfredo took over the menu. Now that they are grown up, their choices have grown up with them, more or less… Fried chicken three years running may be an exception to that, but I aim to please.
Now, back to the Shrimp Scampi, (another three-year running request) I usually make scampi in the traditional manner; on the stove with butter, olive oil, garlic ,and lemon. I lovingly place it on a bed of al dente linguine and dust it with Romano cheese. This year something got into me. Most likely it was the fact that this dinner also needed to include barbecued ribs and there seemed to be no natural bridge. Being Mama D, I was of course able to come up with a solution. The shrimp would become the appetizer.
All the flavors that went into scampi would become a marinade. So, lemon juice (and zest) joined lots of garlic, a little red pepper and vermouth.After several hours the shrimp were extremely happy. They glistened with olive oil and their sweet scent of the sea mingled with the garlic.I tossed them in our trusty grill basket where they cooked quickly aided by lots of tossing and moving about on the grill.
When they were cooked to perfection; plump and pink and slightly translucent with a good bit of spring in their step, They were plated to the happiness of all present.
We repeated this three times, cleaning the plate every time. The shrimp were tender and juicy and the flavor was amazing. There is something about the combination of sweet seafood and the smokey grill that are just magical. I think this may be the new standard for shrimp scampi, and no one seemed to miss the linguine.
Once the shrimp are shelled and deveined, dry them thoroughly between paper towels. Place the shrimp in a zip top plastic bag.
Mix the remaining ingredients together in a small bowl. Pour the marinade into the bag with the shrimp. Seal the bag and refrigerate for at least 2 - 3 hours or as long as 4 -5.
Heat a grill basket over a medium high fire. Spray lightly with olive oil non-stick spray. Remove the shrimp from the marinade and add to the grill basket. Discard the marinade.
Cook, stirring frequently and gently. Move the basket around the grill as needed to keep the heat uniform. Cook until the shrimp turn pink and curl up slightly. This should take 7 - 10 minutes or so. Do not over cook.
If you are using a broiler, give them 3 minutes or so than flip them and give them 3 -4 minutes more they should be pretty in pink and slightly curled up.
Bake these little beauties at 375 degrees for 5 - 8 minutes or so turning half way through.
Remove the shrimp from their heat source and arrange on a platter. Serve with picks as an appetizer. These can also be served as a main dish with side dishes of your choice.
I did make these again, because you really can’t have too much of a good thing. I paired it with an artichoke and tomato panzanella salad for a dinner that was quite wonderful. So this is the appetizer that can easily become a meal. However you want to enjoy it, you’ll find that it is easy to prepare. As long as you have a few hours to spare for the marinating, it’s quick, too.
Birthdays are a once a year event, but meals cooked with love should happen every day.
Love, Mama D