Friday, April 23, 2010

We Find Ourselves in a Pickle

Husband and I are back in Texas for a few days visiting my parents.  When asked what we want to do while we are here, we both replied "Eat." We share the goal of eating as much Gulf shrimp, Texas barbeque, and Mexican food as possible.

It is a real dilemma trying to facilitate so many meals of all the South Texas goodness while still fitting into our clothes and conversing with family.  I mean, we were raised to not talk with our mouth full, but we keep filling our mouths, so it is tricky.

Upon hearing our request, Mom wisely chose a light, refreshing meal for our first homemade dinner.  She knows how to help us pace ourselves through a weekend of gluttony, and she knows I only like shrimp fresh from the Gulf of Mexico.

Mom made pickled shrimp, or Camarones Estilo Barbachano Ponce.  She modified a recipe from the New York Times Menu Cookbook by Craig Claiborne.  It was fairly easy to put together and she was able to prepare it for us the night before so she could focus on visiting with us.

Camarones Estilo Barbachano Ponce (Pickled Shrimp)
6 to 8 servings

2 lbs raw shrimp
1 carrot, peeled and cut into thin strips
1 celery rib with leaves
1 bay leaf
1 small dried hot pepper
6 peppercorns
1 tsp salt, or more
1/4 cup thinly sliced onion (slices should be almost transparent)
1/2 cup canola oil
1/2 cup olive oil
1/2 cup vinegar
1 garlic clove, finely minced
2 medium tomatoes, peeled, seeded, and chopped
Freshly ground black pepper
Chopped parsley
1 ripe avocado,  peeled, seeded, and cubed

Remove the shells and tails and discard.   Rinse the shrimp under water and set aside.

Put enough water to eventually cover the shrimp in a saucepan and add the carrot, celery, bay leaf, hot pepper, peppercorns, and salt.  Bring to a boil and simmer for 10 minutes.

While simmering, combine the onion slices, oils, vinegar, garlic, tomatoes, and salt to taste in a large mixing bowl and set aside.

Add the shrimp to the boiling water and cook for no more five minutes after the liquid returns to a boil.  It took Mom about 4 minutes this time.  (You can't rely on color because some shrimp is already pink, but it should no longer be translucent.)   Drain the shrimp and while still warm add them to the mixing bowl with the oil and vinegar mixture.  Gently mix together.  Cover and chill for about 12 hours.

Before putting it on the table, sprinkle the shrimp mixture with black pepper and parsley.  You could mix in the cubed avocado, but our fruit was really ripe and we feared it would get mushy in the mixture.  So instead, we put the cubed avocado directly on our plates and spooned the shrimp mixture on top, or you could do the reverse.  We served it with French bread with garlic butter and fresh melon.  If you have any leftover shrimp, you can serve the next day on plates of lettuce for a nice starter salad.

On to our next meal...stay tuned.

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