Have Cajun night with Emeril Lagasse's famous BBQ shrimp recipe

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Prep time: 30 minutes | Cook time: 2 hours | Serves: 4


Emeril Lagasse has been a culinary icon in New Orleans for more than three decades – long before he became America's most famous celebrity chef. Emeril currently owns four NOLA restaurants – along with eight more in Pennsylvania, Florida and Las Vegas – and his first and flagship restaurant, Emeril's, is currently celebrating is 28th anniversary.

Among the most popular dishes at Emeril's is the New Orleans BBQ shrimp – a plate of the crustaceans served in a rich, buttery BBQ  sauce served with house-made southern biscuits that make the dish even more decadent.

After sharing with us a selection of his favorite places to eat in The Big Easy, Emeril was kind enough to provide us with the recipe for the longtime menu mainstay – both the shrimp and the biscuits.

Cooked in heavy cream, butter and a mixture or spices and aromatics, this shrimp is as authentic Cajun as it gets – straight from the recipe book of a NOLA legend.

*Photo and recipe courtesy of Emeril Lagasse.


For the shrimp
  • 3 pounds large Gulf shrimp, in their shells
  • To taste cracked black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/4 cup chopped onions
  • 2 tablespoons minced garlic
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 3 lemons, peeled and sectioned
  • 2 cups water
  • 1/2 cup Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/4 cup dry white wine
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 tablespoon chopped chives
  • 2 tablespoons Emeril's Essence or Creole Seasoning
For the biscuits
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 2 tablespoons butter, cold
  • 1/2 cup solid vegetable shortening, cold
  • 1 cup milk


To make the shrimp

  1. Peel the shrimp, leaving only their tails attached. Reserve the shells and set aside. Sprinkle the shrimp with 1 tablespoon Creole seasoning and fresh cracked black pepper. Use your hands to coat the shrimp with the seasonings. Refrigerate the shrimp while you make the sauce base.
  2. Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in a large pot over high heat. When the oil is hot, add the onions and garlic and sauté for 1 minute. Add the reserved shrimp shells, the remaining Creole seasoning, the bay leaves, lemons, water, Worcestershire, wine, salt, and black pepper. Stir well and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for 30 minutes.
  3. Remove from the heat, allow to cool for about 15 minutes. Strain into a small saucepan.
  4. There should be about 1 1/2 cups. Place over high heat, bring to a boil, and cook until thick, syrupy, and dark brown, for about 15 minutes. Makes about 4 to 5 tablespoons of barbecue sauce base.  
  5. Heat the remaining 1 tablespoon of oil in a large skillet over high heat. When the oil is hot, add the seasoned shrimp and sauté them, occasionally shaking the skillet, for 2 minutes. Add the cream and all of the barbecue base.
  6. Stir and simmer for 3 minutes. Remove the shrimp to a warm platter with tongs and whisk the butter into the sauce. Remove from the heat.
  7. Mound the shrimp in the center of a platter. Spoon  the sauce over the shrimp and around the plate. Arrange the biscuits around the shrimp. Garnish with chopped chives.

To make the biscuits

  1. Preheat the oven to 400ºF.   In a large mixing bowl, combine the flour, baking powder and salt. Mix well. Add 1 tablespoon of the cold butter and the cold shortening and work it into the dry ingredients, using your hands, until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs.
  2. Stir in the milk. The dough will be sticky. Dust your work surface with some flour. Turn the dough onto the floured surface. Gently fold each side toward the center.
  3. Pick up the dough and dust the work surface with additional flour. Return the dough to the floured surface and fold each side towards the center again. Turn the dough over and press it out to 1-inch thickness. Cut the biscuits, straight down, do not twist the cutter, with a 2 1/4-inch round cookie cutter.
  4. Melt the remaining tablespoon of butter and add to a 10-inch round cake pan. Place the biscuits in the pan, turning once (to coat both sides with butter), about 1/4-inch apart. Let the biscuits rest for 15 minutes before baking. Bake until golden brown, about 15 minutes.


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