Shrimp & Liberty

Liberty Weekend 1986 – the Statue of Liberty Centennial Celebration. Hundreds of dignitaries and celebrities were on hand for the spectacular four day celebration and upwards of 20,000 boats were in New York harbor. There were Tall Ships from all over the world, pleasure craft of every size and charter yachts that people had booked years in advance to ensure they would be part of the historic festivities. One of those yachts was the Mariner III from Biloxi, Mississippi and I was on board.

I found the photo (below) while going through my collection of saved magazines and newspapers from historic events. It is the centerfold of Time Magazine’s July 14th, 1986 edition and my finger points to the approximate spot where I was aboard the Mariner III, in our  assigned anchorage for all of the festivities including the July 4th fireworks extravaganza, wherein pyrotechnics were launched into the sky from eight barges. It was a breathtaking display of “rockets red glare and bombs bursting in air ” that turned me into a fireworks snob. Sorry – nothing since compares.

Food Photos & MIII

Liberty Weekend 1986 also kick-started my career in catering  and adventure on the high seas. I was originally hired as a waitress but once word got out that I grew up in a family of Italian restaurateurs, I was invited to work in the galley as an apprentice to the onboard southern Chef – a person whose name you would probably recognize today. One of my first assignments was to peel, clean and boil shrimp for the raw bar. I thought it was an easy enough task – I had, after all, grown up eating and serving shrimp cocktail in my grandmother’s restaurant. But this was whole new world – a world where boiling shrimp in just plain water was seriously frowned upon – a world where I was going to explore new flavors and a find my inner chef. I was almost immediately introduced to Zatarain’s – a nifty boil-in-bag collection of herbs and spices – and was taught how to use it to boil shrimp – Southern style.

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Spicy Boiled Shrimp

Over the years, I have experimented with alternative spices which led to the development of my own version of boiled shrimp – Yankee style. So, in honor of our Nation’s 240th year of Independence, the Statue of Liberty’s 130th birthday and the 30th anniversary of the beginning of my catering career, I share with you now my version of boiled shrimp. Enjoy!

-Two (2) 2 lb. bags frozen, deveined but shell on shrimp (no smaller than 26-30 count per pound)
-Four (4) whole ears raw fresh corn – each ear cut into 4 pieces
-Three (3) whole large lemons
-One (1) lb. bite sized red potatoes (or fingerling potatoes) the smaller the better, skins on
-One (1) large yellow onion, skin removed
-1/4 cup freshly ground sea salt
-2 tbs. Tabasco sauce
-2 whole bay leaves
-5 tbs. Old Bay seasoning
-3 tbs. coriander seeds
-2 tbs. cayenne pepper
-1 tbs. dried garlic flakes
-1 tbs. dried onion flakes
-1 tbs. ground cumin
-1 tbs. dry mesquite flavoring
-1 tsp. dried dill
-1 tsp. red chili pepper flakes
-1 tsp. freshly black peppercorns

-Thaw the shrimp
-Fill a large stock pot with 16 cups of water
-Cut the lemons into quarters add to pot
-Make sure skin is removed, cut the onion into quarters, add to pot
-Add the salt, Tabasco and all of the dried spices
-Cover and bring to a rolling boil – making sure not to allow it to boil over
-Add the potatoes stir, cover and bring to boil, then uncover allowing potatoes to cook for 5 minutes
-Then add the shrimp and the corn, stir, cover and bring to rolling boil, then uncover and cook for 5 minutes
-Then turn off the stove, cover the pot and allow to sit 5 more minutes
-Pour into a large colander in the sink to drain all of the liquid, discard bay leaves, onions and lemons
-Place the shrimp, potatoes and corn in one large bowl or platter and serve immediately “as is” or with cocktail sauce.

Makes six (6) servings