Food & Drink

Garlic-Lemon Shrimp

6 main-course servings

A guaranteed crowd-pleaser, courtesy of Brennan’s in New Orleans

Photo: Courtesy of Brennan's

Most folks know the Brennan family of restaurateurs in New Orleans as staunchly Irish, but at least one branch on the tree is Italian. Ralph Brennan, the proprietor of Brennan’s in the French quarter, has always held that his Italian mother made the best red sauce in all their generations of cooks. Here, Brennan shares a family holiday recipe that marries the tang of lemon and garlic with a Gulf Coast favorite—fresh head-on-shrimp.


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    • ¼ cup olive oil, not extra-virgin

    • 30 jumbo shrimp,* peeled and deveined, but with heads and tails left on

    • ½ tsp. kosher salt

    • ½ tsp. freshly ground black pepper

    • Citrus Vinaigrette (recipe below)

    • 3 lemons, cut in half, for garnish

  • Citrus Vinaigrette (2 cups)

    • 3 tbsp. freshly squeezed lemon juice

    • 3 tbsp. key lime juice (fresh preferred)

    • ½ cup chopped fresh Italian (flat-leaf) parsley leaves

    • 2 tbsp. finely chopped fresh garlic

    • 1¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil

    • ¼ tsp. kosher salt, or to taste

    • ⅛ tsp. freshly ground black pepper


  1. In a heavy, broad-based (about 12-inch-diameter) saucepan, heat the olive oil over high heat until it is just short of smoking, about two minutes.

  2. Add the shrimp in a single layer as much as possible, and include any heads that may have come detached. Sprinkle kosher salt and pepper over the shrimp and, without stirring, cook the shrimp for one minute. Reduce the heat to medium-high, and cook the shrimp until pink on both sides, about three minutes, turning each shrimp over at least once.

  3. Add 1½ cups of the citrus vinaigrette to the pan. Continue cooking until the vinaigrette just begins to bubble and the shrimp are barely done, about 45 seconds more, moving the shrimp around with a spoon so the vinaigrette flows evenly around all the shrimp.

  4. Remove from heat and let the shrimp sit in the pan for about 30 seconds, then pour the shrimp and sauce into a large shallow pasta bowl or onto a large serving platter.

  5. Drizzle the remaining vinaigrette over the shrimp and garnish with lemon halves. Serve family style while the shrimp are still piping hot, accompanied by warm French bread to sop up the sauce.

  6. *If jumbo shrimp are not available, use 2 to 2½ pounds of the largest shrimp (with heads and tails) you can find.

  7. For Citrus Vinaigrette:

    In a large mixing bowl, combine the lemon and lime juices, parsley, and garlic, whisking until well mixed. Very gradually add the olive oil in a thin, steady stream, whisking constantly until all is incorporated and the mixture looks a bit creamy. Whisk in salt and pepper.

  8. Before using the vinaigrette, refrigerate overnight in a covered container to let the flavors develop, then season with more salt if desired. Keep refrigerated and use within four days.