A Game Changing Cooking Technique
OK, so I was with Hot and Hot Fish Club’s amazing chef Chris Hastings, standing in his Birmingham, Alabama, restaurant kitchen and eating my way through his mise en place about an hour before service. He hated me. But before I left, he fed me some shrimp and grits, and the shrimp were some of the most miraculous I have ever had. So I started quizzing him. He freely told me that while fresh Gulf shrimp, just hours out of water, help immensely, it’s the cooking technique that results in their perfect flavor and sinful texture. I can’t even begin to tell you how good these are. Anyway, I adapted his trick and, inspired by some local cress I had eaten in a salad dish earlier that day with him, I created this riff on his dish. That man is a genius, truly.
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 3 shallots, minced (1/2 cup)
- 1 pound large shrimp, preferably head-on, shelled and deveined
- 2 tablespoons minced parsley
- 1/4 cup dry white wine
- 1 bunch watercress—thick stems discarded, the rest coarsely chopped (2 cups)
In a large skillet, melt the butter with the shallots over low heat. Season the shrimp with salt and arrange them in the skillet in one layer. Cook over very low heat for 10 minutes. Turn the shrimp, sprinkle with the parsley and cook until pink and curled and just white throughout, 8 to 10 minutes longer; you’re essentially butter-poaching the shrimp. Transfer the shrimp to a plate.
Add the wine to the skillet and simmer until the sauce is slightly thickened, about 1 minute. Stir in the watercress and season with salt. Toss just until wilted. Transfer the watercress to a platter and top with the shrimp and any pan juices.