Monday, October 6, 2008

Just a Little Tequila ...

I lost my eyebrows this weekend.

Just kidding. But when I saw a recipe on Epicurious for Tequila Shrimp, which required me to light the alcohol on fire in the pan, I will admit I was a little bit terrified. Couple that with the fact that I -- pretty much an only wine-drinking Christian -- went to the store, bought a large bottle of white tequila and a box of matches and brought it home to my new roommates (at 2 in the morning on a Saturday), I must say the experience was interesting. I convinced them that I was not a closet alcoholic, but rather, that I use alcohol for cooking purposes only.

My weekend was filled with the typical runaround that characterizes my days off:

1. Get hair done -- check
2. Balance the checkbook that hasn't been done in a week -- check
3. Wax eyebrows that look like Groucho Marx's -- check
4. Neurotically check food websites for what I want to cook -- and plan when I can make a mad dash around the store -- check

To multi-task, I roped my bff into shucking and "deveining"/"depooping" a pound of shrimp for the dish that I was so eager to light on fire. Maybe I am an undercover pyromaniac -- whatever -- but like the nerd that I am, I kept telling everyone that I got to light the alcohol in the pan. I was so excited that I put more tequila than the recipe required just so I could light it twice.

All in all, the recipe had to be tweaked a bit in order to bring out that famous "bite" that the recipe author swore it would have. But once the improvising was done, the white tequila added a unique flavor. Coupled with fettuccine, the shrimp was the perfect way to end my Sunday -- carbs and a double chick-flick: "Meet Joe Black" and "Forget Paris."

Tequila Shrimp
(adapted from
1 1/2 pounds large shrimp in shell (21 to 25 per pound), peeled and deveined
1 teaspoon kosher salt
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 cup white or reposado tequila
3/4 cup crema or sour cream
1 scallion, thinly sliced
1 tablespoon garlic salt
About a palm size minced onion

Toss shrimp with kosher salt, 3/4 teaspoon coarsely ground pepper, garlic salt and onion.

Heat butter in a 12-inch heavy skillet over medium-high heat until foam subsides, then sauté shrimp, turning, until pink and just cooked through, 3 to 5 minutes. Reduce heat and add tequila, then increase heat to medium-high. Tilt skillet over gas burner to ignite tequila (or ignite with a long match; use caution, as flames may shoot up high). Cook, shaking skillet gently once or twice, until flames subside. Remove from heat and stir in crema. Serve sprinkled with scallion.

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