It’s been a month of adventures for Team Langlois. We work hard, and we definitely play hard … the difference is, our day off “play” often doubles as work (i.e. eating at some of New Orleans’ great restaurants in the name of “research”).
Recently, Chef Tess and I headed over to Pascal’s Manale on our off day to check out the original New Orleans-style barbecued shrimp. Pascal’s Manale is credited with inventing this famous dish in the 1950s and countless restaurants around the city serve their own version of it. For the uninitiated, New Orleans-style BBQ shrimp are not covered in sweet, sticky barbecue sauce or cooked on a grill. They are large, head/shell-on Louisiana shrimp cooked in a rich, black peppery butter sauce. It is a messy, peel-and-eat affair that leaves diners knuckle-deep in shrimp, discarded shells, and butter, and grinning ear to ear.
Living in New Orleans, we’re lucky for a lot of reasons. One that popped into my head – sometime after the waiter bibbed us and before the last of many sauce-smeared napkins were removed – is how lucky we are to have the Gulf in our backyard and these gorgeous, giant head-on Louisiana shrimp a quick phone call or drive away. I mean, look at those things.
The whole point of our field trip was to understand a little more about how restaurants have adapted and transformed the original recipe to create their own version. We love the recipe we use at Langlois – it’s based on the style served at Mr. B’s and Palace Café, which means the flavor profile is centered on garlic, rosemary, and Worcestershire. (It’s also one of our most-requested recipes.) At NOLA and Emeril’s, an unmistakable hit of heavy cream is added to the classic sauce. At Liuzza’s by the Track, the kitchen stuffs small shrimp cooked to order in a butter-black pepper sauce inside a hollowed-out end of French bread. Our field trip to rediscover the original at Pascal’s Manale revealed a more straightforward and simple approach: heavy on the garlic, black pepper, and butter.
We don’t plan on changing our recipe, but after our Pascal’s Manale lunch, we’re excited to be able to tell our guests more about the origin and evolution of this classic New Orleans dish.