Like almost any southerner I’m a sucker for a good mac and cheese. What’s more comforting than carbs and cheese? Simple: carbs, cheese, and a crap ton of seafood. I based this recipe off of a traditional macaroni pie recipe, but with some switched up cheeses as well as the addition of shrimp, scallops and (admittedly imitation) crab.
Shrimp is one of the key items in South Carolina food culture. Growing up one of the main spots for my family vacations was Charleston. For those of you who have never been Charleston is a beautiful town filled with a rich history that is as old as America itself, and they also boast some of the best food in the world in my opinion. Since Charleston is on the shore you can find beautiful coastal style dishes in almost every restaurant. Think she crab soup or shrimp and grits. Every time my family would travel to Charleston we made sure to eat every bite of shrimp that was available to us and we would even get coolers full of shrimp from seafood markets to take home with us. The shrimp there is that good.
For this dish I was inspired by memories of Charleston, South Carolina. I wanted to create something with beautiful shrimp, but really turn the volume up on the flavor to create a fiery, yet decadent shrimp. I crusted the shrimp in some of my favorite spices like old bay and lots of garlic powder. Then I combined oil, butter, and garlic in the pan to create a sort of garlic butter, and then cooked the shrimp in the garlic butter for extra oomph. I paired these shrimp with my tomato basil cream pasta, recipe found here. This created an incredibly well rounded dish. The shrimp had spicy and garlicky notes while the pasta balanced it out with the sauce’s creaminess and sweetness of the tomato and basil. This pairing worked incredibly well, but I think these shrimp could go with any manner of dishes. They would be beautiful next to a steak for a surf and turf, orwould be delicious with polenta for a play on shrimp and grits. There are so many options for these little flavor bombs, plus the cooking on them is super easy to boot!
1/2 pound raw shrimp, peeled and deveined
3 tablespoons garlic powder
1/2 tablespoon cayenne pepper
1 tablespoon black pepper
1 tablespoon old bay seasoning
2 cloves minced garlic
3 tablespoons butter
1 tablespoon cooking oil
Start by mixing the garlic powder, cayenne, black pepper, and old bay together. Heat the oil and butter over medium high heat. While your oil and butter heats up toss the shrimp in the spice mix. Once the butter is melted add the garlic and give it one minute to cook. After that minute add your shrimp to the pan. The shrimp should take about two minutes to cook on the first side and one minute on the second side. The spices should form a nice crust on the shrimp. For serving I topped my pasta with the shrimp and garlic from the pan, and then topped the whole plate off with fresh basil and parmesan cheese. It does not get much easier or more delicious than that!