Grand Marnier Chili Shrimp
You thought we were gone already, didn’t you? Nope. Well, not yet. Our plane flies out tonight just after 8pm, which means one more day of work and then we sprout wings and flee the Canadian wilds….if by ‘wilds’ we can include ‘greater Toronto suburbs’. Oh yes, what a crazy place this is. Sometimes, but only sometimes, people in our neighborhood even drive out to the convenience store and back without their seat belts on. I KNOW. Wild. In the meantime, however, I thought that I could sneak in just one more post before we take a two week hiatus.
We had a couple of friends over last weekend for cocktails and snacks. We’ve spent a lot of time feasting and feting with this couple over the years, so fortunately I had a good idea of exactly what they liked. Trays of antipasto and olives, the Brie en Croute that the Mister half of the couple could devour by himself, veggies and the Missus’ favorite roasted red pepper, walnut and feta dip, and mini cocktail wienies served with piquant homemade Bavarian mustard for my beau. Because if there’s one thing that Mike likes, it’s mini sausages. I was going to say ‘little wieners’, but somehow I think he’d take umbrage to that choice of words….
But man can’t get by on Brie alone, and although I want to feed people things that they’ll like, I also have to give them variety. After all, would you want to keep going back to someone’s house if you knew that EVERY TIME it would be the same bottle of wine, the same dip, the same cold cuts? I certainly think not. Except for the wine, but I’d probably drink that and then leave before the rolled salami on cocktail picks made their way to the table. No, that’s not true, I’d eat the salami too and then I’d leave. I’m a very, very bad houseguest.
When I spun the Wheel of Fortune (Appetizer Edition) it landed on seafood skewers, which was perfect because we started out by having such a nice weekend! But then it got cold. Really cold. At about 7pm. So…..out with the BBQ and in with the oven! I would have rather shown you a picture with lovely charred grill marks on our fruits de mer, but such is life. On the plus side, grill marks or not, those shrimp are still soaked in chili and booze. I call that a win.
Grand Marnier Chili Shrimp
Makes between 6-18 appetizers, depending on how generous you are with the skewers.
- 550 g large raw shrimp *
- 1 orange
- 2 cloves garlic
- 2 tbsp oil
- 1/4 cup Grand Marnier
- 2 tsp dried tarragon
- 1 tsp sambal oelek **
- salt and pepper to taste
* When you’re buying shrimp it doesn’t mean too much to see the word ‘large’, does it? Shrimp are grouped according to their size per pound. For example, 21/26 means that in 1 pound of shrimp there would be between 21 – 26 juicy seafood morsels. For a large shrimp, I would usually choose 21/26 or 26/30. Oh, and because I flit all helter-skelter between metric and imperial, 550 grams of shrimp is about 1.25 pounds…but there’s enough marinade that if you want to up the ante a bit on your shrimp front, well, that’s alright too.
** No sambal oelek? No worries! Any super spicy and chili laden Asian hot sauce would be just fine. Why not try sriracha or Chinese chili sauce?
Start by making a delicious spicy-sweet chili and Grand Marnier marinade for the shrimp. Grate or zest a nice heaping tablespoon of orange peel into a medium bowl. Grate in the 2 cloves of garlic as well, or mince them as finely as possible before adding to the bowl.
Add in the oil, Grand Marnier, dried tarragon and sambal oelek/chili sauce. While you’re at it, squeeze in the juice of your half naked orange. Give the marinade a good whisk and then season to taste with salt and pepper.
A lot of people are afraid to taste their marinade, shuddering at the mere thought, as if it’s full of despicable bacteria and fermented rot. Well, let me tell you: this is what your food will be soaking in. What could there possibly be to fear in a wee bowl of sauce? Nothing, that’s what! Taste, taste away….and adjust the seasoning while you’re at it.
If your shrimp have not been peeled and deveined, best do that now. Keep the tails on the shrimp though, because they just make for such a darn pretty presentation.
Pour the marinade over the shrimp and leave them to wallow in their own glory for a half hour at room temperature. You may want to give them a flip or a shake after 15 minutes or so to make sure that the flavor blends all over and not just on one side.
During this half hour you might also want to soak your bamboo skewers in cold water so that they don’t scorch when you cook them.
Oh, and take a baking sheet, cover it in tin foil, and lightly spray it with non-stick cooking spray. That’s it now, I promise.
When the marinade has been soaking into the shrimp for half an hour, spiking them with the sweet heat of Grand Marnier and chili, start threading them onto skewers. Nestle two shrimp together, wrapped into one another like a yin-yang or some crazy seafood spooning action. Actually…actually that’s not the ‘spooning’ position that they’re in, but my Mom reads this blog so let’s just think of this as a sweet and innocent crustacean embrace.
Stick a skewer straight through the happy couple. That’ll learn them – it’s more than love that will keep them together NOW. Hehehehhehee. Oh god, I’m an awful human being. Who taunts their SHRIMP?! Jeez louise.
So you might have wondered about that ‘6-18 skewers’ at the top of the recipe. If I was serving this as a cocktail snack, I would have cute little mini bamboo skewers and just thread two shrimp on each in a little seafood circle – that would be the 18 appetizers. For my 8″ skewers I went for three pairs per skewer, which makes about 6 skewers in total. Really, it’s up to you.
Lay the skewers on your baking sheet which is all shiny with foil and non-stick spray. Discard all of the unused marinade.
If last weekend wasn’t so bitterly cold, I would have liked to have done these on the BBQ. They really only take about 2 minutes per side when grilled.
Back in the land of the oven, however, pre-heat that puppy up to 450ºF. Tuck the shrimp in for about 3 minutes, flip the skewers over, and put them back in for just another couple of minutes. The shrimp are cooked with they’re pink and translucent, which really takes next to no time at all. Be sure to take the shrimp off the heat as soon as they’re cooked through, because overcooked shrimp are friends to nobody except for Racky Raccoon.
The sweet orange flavor of the zest and Grand Marnier has soaked right through the shrimp, and it gets punctuated by the low heat of chili and the herbal green taste of tarragon. In other words, them’s good eats. I likes me a good shrimp kebab.
The longer I look at this picture, the more I think I should have written “serves 1-2 as an entree”. Except that would be gluttonous, I know. But we all have our vices. If I promise not to fall prey to Envy (too hard) Wrath (too frequent) Sloth (too late) Lust (fat chance) PRIDE, can I keep the gluttony just in case?
Thanks, I appreciate that. You’re a pal. Next time we meet up I’ll buy you a bevy.
Cheerio! Oops – I mean, Au Revoir!