How to Grill Shrimp in the Shell

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METHOD: Direct grilling
ADVANCE PREPARATION: 30 minutes for marinating the shrimp
Shrimp is one of the world’s favorite shellfish, but a challenge that bedevils grillers everywhere: the tendency of this lean shellfish to dry out. One solution used from Portugal to Penang is to grill the shrimp in their shells, which shield the delicate meat from the fire, sealing in juices. The recipe I use to illustrate this technique is based on one from New Orleans. The locals call it “barbecued shrimp,” but the shrimp aren’t grilled. They stew in spices, fiery hot sauce, and finger-licking rich butter. It’s time to harness the flavors of this dish to the service of the grill. Here’s a New Orleans-style shrimp that’s actually worthy of the name barbecue.

Setting Up the Grill

  1. To set up a charcoal grill for direct grilling, first light the charcoal in a chimney starter.

  2. Using a garden hoe or other long-handled implement, rake the burning coals into an even layer.

  3. To see if the grill is preheated to high, use the test.

Preparing the Shrimp

  1. To devein the shrimp in their shells, use kitchen shears to make a lengthwise cut down the back of each shrimp.

  2. Once the shell is cut, you can pull out the vein with your fingers or with the tine of a fork.

  3. Skewer the shrimp. To ensure even grilling, position all the shrimp facing the same direction. Using two-pronged skewers, like the one here, keeps the shrimp from slipping or rotating during grilling. You can also use two single bamboo skewers.

  4. ON THE GRILL: Cook the shrimp directly over a hot fire. They will be firm and white when fully cooked. This will take 2 to 3 minutes per side.

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