Shrimp cocktail - so simple and yet so easy to mess up, after all, think of all the rubbery, watery shrimp you have had over the years. I was asked to bring the classic appetizer for Christmas dinner and I found this adapted recipe from Cook's Country on www.melskitchencafe.com
The shrimp are poached in a simple court bullion. The shrimp are started in cold water, brought up to 170 degrees and then left to sit, covered for 5-7 minutes. This method helps prevent overcooking. Although the recipe is for 2 pounds, I doubled the amount of shrimp in the pot with no trouble. I did not have fresh thyme, so I substituted dried. I did not make the cocktail sauce, as I was told there was already some at the house, but Mel wrote in her blog that it was "drinkable," so maybe next time.
The Best Shrimp Cocktail
Yield: Serves 6-8
Note: The shrimp and sauce may be made up to 24 hours in advance and refrigerate. If you can't find shrimp that are deveined, simply cut through the top of the shell along the vein line (leaving the shell on the shrimp), and remove and discard the vein.
• 2 pounds deveined, shell-on jumbo shrimp (16 to 20 per pound)
• 2 1/2 tablespoons salt
• 10 sprigs fresh thyme
• 2 teaspoons peppercorns
• 3 bay leaves
• 1/2 teaspoon celery seed
• 8 (2-inch) strips lemon peel plus 1/4 cup juice, from 2 lemons (reserve the lemon halves that have been juiced)
• 8 cups ice
• 1 cup ketchup
• 1/4 cup prepared horseradish
• 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
• 1 teaspoon lemon juice
• 1/2 teaspoon Old Bay seasoning
• 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1. Combine the shrimp, 4 cups cold water, salt, thyme, peppercorns, bay leaves and celery seeds in a large pot. Cook the mixture over medium-high heat, stirring every so often, until the water registers 170 degrees and the shrimp are just beginning to turn pink, 5 to 7 minutes.
2. Remove the pot from the heat and add the lemon peels, juice and lemon halves that have already been juiced. Cover the pot and let the mixture sit until the shrimp are completely pink and firm, 5 to 7 minutes. Stir the ice into the pot and let the shrimp cool completely, about 5 minutes. Drain the water and peel the shrimp, leaving the tails intact. Refrigerate the shrimp up to 24 hours until ready to serve.
3. For the cocktail sauce, whisk all the ingredients together until combined. Store in the refrigerator until ready to serve with the shrimp.