When I am looking for a smashing opener for a dinner party, I turn to shrimp. They cook extremely quickly, everyone loves them and they seem like a splurge even though they aren’t that expensive, especially if you buy them in bulk and keep them frozen.
One of my favorite appetizers has always been shrimp cocktail. I love the spiciness of horseradish in the classic sauce. In this version, I’ve added chipotle paste. The smokiness of the chipotle enhances the smoke from grilling the shrimp and adds some extra spiciness to wake up your taste buds.
I also use a rub on the shrimp to add even more flavor. If you are purists and want more focus on the sauce, you can leave them plain. I would definitely make sure they are well coated with olive oil before cooking so they won’t stick to the grill. Char-Broil’s TRU-Infrared technology reduces flare-ups so there is less chance of charring these delicate bites.
I’ve given you a choice to either skewer the shrimp or use a grill basket on your barbecue. Both ways work well. Because I was making so many shrimp at the same time, I chose to use the grill basket, which worked beautifully. If you are using skewers, I highly recommend you buy square or rectangular versions – not round. This prevents your food from spinning on the skewers, making them easier to flip.
This beautiful citrus-infused sauce would also make a delicious marinade for chicken or pork and could be used to glaze other grilled meats. It is spicy with just enough sweetness to offset the heat and a touch of sourness from the pomegranate molasses to balance all the flavors.
The next time you are having a party, I hope you make these shrimp for your guests. You’re sure to have a table full of smiling faces!
This orange and chipotle cocktail sauce is the perfect accompaniment to beautifully grilled shrimp.
- 2 teaspoons paprika
- 1/4 teaspoon kosher or sea salt
- 1 teaspoon Old Bay Seasoning (Old Bay is gluten free)
- 1/4 teaspoon onion powder (not onion salt!)
- 1/8 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper (the more you add, the spicier the shrimp)
- 1 teaspoon dried thyme leaves
- Pinch sugar
- 1 to 2 tablespoons olive oil, as needed to make a paste
- 24 medium shrimp, peeled, deveined and rinsed well
- 1/4 cup prepared sweet chili sauce (Heinz brand is gluten free)
- 1/4 cup ketchup
- 1 teaspoon pomegranate molasses
- 2 1/2 teaspoons creamy prepared horseradish (or more to taste)
- 1/2 teaspoon Old Bay Seasoning
- 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/2 to 1 teaspoon adobo sauce from chipotles in adobo or chipotle paste with adobo (to taste)
- 1/2 teaspoon grated orange zest
- 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed orange juice
- About 1/4 head of lettuce, preferably iceberg, shredded (the amount of lettuce you need will depend on the size your serving dishes)
- Fresh navel orange slices
- Fresh cilantro or Italian parsley, finely chopped
- Marinate the Shrimp: In a medium bowl, combine the paprika, salt, Old Bay, onion powder, garlic powder, cayenne, thyme and sugar. Stir until evenly mixed. Add the oil and stir to create a paste, about the thickness of honey. Add the cleaned shrimp and rub the spice paste all over the shrimp. Cover the bowl and chill in the refrigerator while you make the cocktail sauce. Wash your hands thoroughly with soap and hot water to remove the chile pepper. If you don’t do this and later rub your eyes, you’ll be sorry!
- Prepare the Sauce: In a medium bowl, combine the chili sauce, ketchup, molasses, horseradish, Old Bay, salt, adobo sauce, orange zest and orange juice. Whisk together. Taste and adjust the seasonings. Cover and refrigerate until ready to plate.
- Grill the Shrimp: You can cook the shrimp one of two ways. You can place them on skewers or you can cook them in a grill skillet.
- If you use skewers, I recommend using reusable flat metal skewers to keep the food from spinning. Use a hot pad or tongs to turn them because they do get hot. Rub the grates of the grill with an oiled paper towel before placing skewers on the hot grill.
- If you use a grill skillet, oil it well before placing it on the grill. Heat it up, brush with oil again and then add the shrimp. Use a heatproof spatula or long handled heatproof spoon to keep the shrimp moving while they cook.
- Leave the shrimp on the heat about 2 to 3 minutes or until they are firm to the touch. The spice rub will make it hard to see them turn pink, but they will get lighter in color and the tail portions will turn pink. Firmness is the best way to tell when they are done. Remember that residual heat will continue after you pull them off the heat and you can always put them back on, so err on the side of undercooking rather than overcooking. When done, transfer shrimp to a plate to cool.
- All of the components can be prepared up to an hour or two in advance and stored separately (covered) in the refrigerator. Do not assemble dishes until just before you are ready to serve. If you have made them ahead, let the components sit at room temperature about 20 minutes to warm up slightly before serving.
- For Serving: Fill the dishes 2/3 to 3/4 full with the shredded lettuce and sprinkle with a little salt and pepper. If you want you can toss the lettuce with a tiny bit of vinaigrette, but this isn’t necessary. Cut the orange into slender wedges and cut a slit in the middle, opposite the rind edge so they will fit onto the edge of the dishes. Chop the herbs and pat dry on paper towels. Herbs sprinkle better when they are dry.
- When the shrimp are cool enough to handle, hook them over the edge of the dish or snuggle them around the edge as I did, and using a small spoon, drizzle with some of the cocktail sauce. Slip an orange wedge on the edge of each dish and sprinkle with the cilantro or parsley. Serve immediately.
The sauce will hold in the refrigerator for several days, tightly covered. Return to room temperature before serving.