Classic Shrimp Cocktail

Photography, Jane Shortridge

In about an hour you can have an elegant first course for your fanciest dinner party, lunch with Bloody Marys on a pontoon boat or brunch on the deck of a friend’s cabin enjoyed with a  Hugo Spritz. We enjoyed all three this summer.

Makes 4 substantial first course servings
10 cups cold water
2 medium carrots, quartered
2 stalks celery, quartered
1 large yellow onion, quartered
3 – 4 cloves garlic
1 lemon, halved; preferably organic
2 sprigs parsley
5 sprigs fresh thyme
2 bay leaves
1 teaspoon whole black peppercorns
1 tablespoon Old Bay Seasoning (optional)
16 large (just over a pound) shrimp, in the shell, rinsed

Lemon wedges and cocktail sauce for serving

Make an ice bath and set aside.

Put the water, carrots, celery, onion, garlic, lemon, parsley, thyme, bay leaves, peppercorns, (and Old Bay Seasoning if using) in a large saucepan and bring to a boil over high heat. Lower the heat to a simmer between 10 to 30 minutes.

Drop the shrimp into the liquid, immediately turn off the heat and cover with a lid. Allow the shrimp to cook in the hot liquid, stirring occasionally, until they curl and turn pink, about 3 – 4 minutes. Using a pair of tongs, fish out the shrimp and place in the ice bath. Strain the broth (aka court bouillon) and reserve/freeze for other uses, like when making seafood risotto.

Peel the shrimp and remove the vein along the curve of the shrimp. Refrigerate if not serving right away. If refrigerated, bring the shrimp to room temperature about 15 – 20 minutes before serving.

To serve put your favorite cocktail sauce in a medium bowl and surround with the shrimp on a bed of crushed ice or loop the shrimp over the edge of an individual cocktail glass and top with the sauce. Garnish with the lemon and serve.

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