Chow Town

July 18, 2013

Shrimp everywhere in KC, except in most barbecue joints

When Chef Paul Kirk and I asked more than 200 barbecue champions for a favorite backyard recipe, grilled or smoked shrimp outnumbered all others.

Chow Town

The daily dish on Kansas City's food and drink scene

When Chef Paul Kirk and I asked more than 200 barbecue champions for a favorite backyard recipe, grilled or smoked shrimp outnumbered all others.

It was tempting to do a separate book devoted to homestyle shrimp by barbecue champions. Instead, we selected a few of the best recipes and offered a tongue-in-cheek theory as to why so many shrimp recipes came from landlocked Oklahoma.

If you’re looking for shrimp in Kansas City restaurants or supermarkets, it’s almost as ubiquitous as hamburgers. Shrimp is everywhere in KC, except in most of our barbecue joints.

With a few exceptions, Kansas City barbecue joints do not offer shrimp. Smoked salmon abounds. Shrimp is scarce.

Jack Stack’s hickory grilled Cajun-seasoned jumbo shrimp with remoulade sauce makes up for the KC BBQ joint shrimp deficit. It is so delicious that I could make it my main entree. A kiss of smoke is perfectly balanced with Cajun spices and remoulade sauce. I have enjoyed it many times with out-of-town guests at the Jack Stack Freight House behind Union Station.

When you can’t go shrimping at Jazz, Houlihan’s, McCormick and Schmick’s, Jack Stack or other good eats places, it is easy to grill or smoke shrimp at home. I like to grill it, bathe it in Cajun-spiced butter, and serve it with dirty rice on the side. The way I make dirty rice is a bit labor intensive, but worth it.

William C’s Cajun Grilled Shrimp with Dirty Rice and Turnip Greens

This recipe honors William Cuthbert Faulkner, who lived in New Orleans for 6 months at age 27. If he didn’t indulge in some Cajun shrimp, dirty rice and greens while there, I’ll sing

As I Lay Dying

from cover to cover to the tune of Blind Blake’s Ditty-Wah-Ditty. My dirty rice recipe includes beef and pork instead of traditional chicken livers.

Makes 4 servings

For the Dirty Rice

2 cups brown rice 4 cups chicken stock 1/2 pound ground chuck 1/2 pound ground pork 2 celery stalks, chopped 4 scallions, chopped, including green tops 1 red bell pepper, chopped 1 ear of fresh corn on the cob, shucked and kernels removed

Put rice and chicken stock in a lidded pot. Bring to a boil; reduce to simmer for 40 minutes. Do not lift lid while rice cooks. Set aside, lidded, when done.

Put meat and other ingredients in a large cast iron skillet. Cook over direct heat on your grill or stove top, stirring occasionally with a spatula, until done, about 40 to 45 minutes.

For the Cajun Shrimp

1/4 pound butter 1 tablespoon Cajun seasoning (your own recipe or your favorite brand) 16 uncooked jumbo shrimp

Leave space in your grill for a cool zone that is opposite the direct heat. Melt the butter on your grill in a small cast iron skillet. Stir Cajun seasoning into the melted butter. Put the butter skillet in the cool zone.

Grill shrimp over direct heat, 4 to 5 minutes on each side. When shrimp are bright orange on both sides, put them in the cool zone and queue them up for a butter bath, 4 to 5 shrimp at a time for 2 to 3 minutes each batch. Remove shrimp to a serving bowl and serve immediately with dirty rice and cooked turnip greens.

Shrimp, grilling in Cajun butter bath.

Cajun-spiced grilled shrimp with dirty rice turnip greens.

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