Cajun Butter Roasted Shrimp, Peppers & Potatoes

Wednesday, June 01, 2016

Hard to believe that summer is just around the corner! The weather has already been creeping into the upper eighties here in Virginia, so the stifling humidity is not far behind. I'm not quite yet feeling too hot to cook, but I am winding down from the all-day braises and stews I spent perfecting in the colder months. This is a great thing for the blog, because I've been slacking a bit on easy weeknight meals. I hope to redeem myself with this one pan wonder! I was inspired by Cajun crab boils and an old Test Kitchen technique for roasted jumbo shrimp.

The idea behind most one pan dinners is that everything roasts or broils in the oven on the same heavy baking sheet. It works with all different combinations of meat, seafood and veggies. The key is to choose things that cook at the same rate, or to stagger cooking times so that each item is treated properly. For this recipe, I did the latter. The potatoes are given a jump start in the microwave to steam, then they are joined by sweet mini peppers on the sheet pan. After a short roast, brined shell-on shrimp are added to the pan and broiled for a few minutes until cooked through. Thawed frozen shrimp work fine just make sure you're using "jumbo" sized (16/20 count.) With very little prep work and not much mess to clean up, dinner can be on your table in well under an hour. This would make a dope casual weekend dish to share with friends or lively weeknight dinner with the family. We had a salad on the side, but you could also up the ratio of peppers to potatoes to get some additional veggies in. This recipe is #Whole30 compliant, just be sure to use clarified butter or ghee and make sure your spice blend has no sugar or other additives.

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An essential tool here is a heavy duty sheet pan; a microwave steamer is helpful but not crucial (I use mine almost exclusively for potatoes, but even for that alone it's pretty handy.) You can pick up both items from my Amazon cookware store or the affiliate links above! I recommend having at least two or three baker's half sheet sized sheet pans in your kitchen. I use these bad boys for everything from roasting chickens to baking cookies and general prep work. When you're cooking on them, you can prevent sticking and save yourself some scrubbing by lining the pans with parchment paper or washable/reusable silicone mats. These pans will become the workhorses of your kitchen, so don't worry if they take on more of a "worn" appearance with use. It just means they've been getting the job done!

Cajun Butter Roasted Shrimp, Peppers & Potatoes

1 lb shell-on jumbo shrimp (16/20 count, "easy peel" recommended)
1/4 cup kosher salt, more as needed
1/2 lb white potatoes
1/2 lb mini sweet peppers
2 tbsp cooking oil, such as grape seed or canola (choose an oil with a high smoke point)
1 1/2 tbsp cajun seasoning (use your favorite salt-free blend, or my recipe below)
1/4 cup chopped parsley
2 cloves garlic, grated
1/4 cup melted and cooled butter (or clarified butter/ghee)
Zest and juice of 1 lemon
1/4 cup sliced scallions

Cajun Seasoning Blend:
1 tsp smoked paprika
1 tsp dry mustard
1/2 tsp black pepper
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp onion powder
1/2 tsp chopped fresh thyme
1/4 tsp dried oregano
1/4 tsp cayenne

Active Time: 30 mins
Total Time: 45 mins
Yield: Serves 2 to 4
Special Equipment: heavy duty sheet pan; microwave steamer helpful but not required, parchment paper or silicone mat, microplane grater

First thing you want to do is get your shrimp into the brine. If you're smart/lazy like me, you chose the "easy peel" shrimp which are already deveined with the shells left intact. That's exactly what you want here. If your shrimp are whole, you'll need to use a sharp paring knife to slice along the back of the shrimp, through the shell, removing any debris found. Rinse well before continuing.

Dissolve 1/4 cup kosher salt into 4 cups of cold water, then add the deveined shrimp. Transfer to the fridge and allow the shrimp to soak for 15 minutes. The salty brine will season the shrimp throughout and keep them juicy during the cooking process. By the way, provided your shrimp were already deveined, it's fine if they're frozen. Just add a few minutes to the brine to account for thawing.

Meanwhile, chop the potatoes into 1" chunks. Toss the potatoes with a pinch of salt in your microwave steamer, or a covered microwaved dish left open just a crack. Microwave for 5 minutes to steam. This will give the potatoes a head start on tenderness to speed up the roasting time.

While the potatoes steam, move on to slicing your peppers in half. Remove the core and seeds.  If you don't have mini peppers, large pieces of red and yellow bell peppers will work fine.

Preheat your oven to  425° F and arrange a rack in the upper third of the oven. When the potatoes come out of the microwave, let them air out for a minute and drain any excess water. Toss the peppers and potatoes with 1 teaspoon of the cajun seasoning and 2 tablespoons of cooking oil. Spread the veggies out on a lined heavy baking sheet.

Roast the veggies on the top rack of the oven for 15 to 20 minutes, until potatoes are fork tender and beginning to brown around the edges.

While the potatoes, roast, drain the brined shrimp. Toss with the chopped parsley, remaining cajun blend, grated garlic, lemon zest and melted butter.

You can let those shrimp hang out and marinate while the potatoes and peppers finish roasting. I also had plenty of time to clean up and slice my scallions. You'll notice that the prep work just kind of flows throughout the recipe as the cooking times are staggered.

Once the potatoes are roasted to your liking, remove the pan from the oven. Set your oven to the low broil option. Lay the seasoned shrimp over top of the potatoes. Return the pan to the oven and broil for 2 minutes.

Flip the shrimp over and finish broiling another 2 minutes. The shrimp are done when they turn opaque, so don't overcook them.

Laying the shrimp over the potatoes allowed all that yummy cajun spiced butter to be absorbed. Go ahead and give the shrimp, potatoes and peppers a good toss, adding the sliced scallions. Squeeze everything with fresh lemon juice.

And you are done! Serve this on the table right off the baking sheet or let people pile shrimp and potatoes on to their plates. You're gonna have to get your hands messy to eat the shrimp, but that's all part of the fun!

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  1. Looks so good. Do you think the recipe would turn out too sweet if I subbed mashed plantains in the place of potatoes?

    1. I subbed mine with sweet potatoes and it was still great

  2. This is my 6th time making this tonight. I'm so glad my husband and child are out so I don't have to share!

  3. So good! This is my second time making this :)