Flashback Friday – Some Assembly Required

Flashback Friday

The following originally appeared on 11/19/08 at Exit 51.

Some Assembly Required

That phrase has gotten such a bad reputation thanks to our collective experiences putting together Barbie Dream Houses or Huffy Bikes or anything bought at IKEA.  I will admit that just seeing those words sends an icy chill through me…do I want it enough to figure out how it goes together?  Often, the answer is no.  But sometimes, not only is it worth it to say yes but the assembly is actually easy. I’ll give you an example.

I have a recipe for foolproof Shrimp Salad from Cook’s Illustrated.  From start to finish the whole thing takes maybe thirty minutes.  But I was feeling a bit lazy one day and didn’t even want to do that much cooking.  So instead of cooking the shrimp myself, I let the nice man at the Wegman’s seafood counter take care of that for me.  He didn’t seem to mind one bit.  And really, they know how to do shrimp.  I highly recommend using their court bouillon (plain) shrimp and their garlic/old bay shrimp.

All I had to do then was introduce Wegman’s shrimp to Cook’s Illustrated’s recipe.  It only took a few moments for everyone to be mixing and mingling in my big glass bowl.  They got along great and I was sad to see them go (onto other people’s plates that this).

Don’t think that you have to use fancy schmancy store cooked shrimp though.  Whether you cook your own or outsource it like I did, this is some assembly that you won’t mind.

Foolproof Shrimp Salad

From Cook’s Illustrated

CI Notes:  This recipe can also be prepared with large shrimp (26/30); the cooking time will be 1 to 2 minutes less. The shrimp can be cooked up to 24 hours in advance, but hold off on dressing the salad until ready to serve. The recipe can be easily doubled; cook the shrimp in a 7-quart Dutch oven and increase the cooking time to 12 to 14 minutes. Serve the salad on a bed of greens or on a buttered and grilled bun.

Serves 4

1 pound extra-large shrimp (21-25), peeled, deveined, and tails removed
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice plus 1 additional tablespoon, spent halves reserved
5 sprigs fresh parsley leaves plus 1 teaspoon minced parsley leaves
3 sprigs fresh tarragon leaves plus 1 teaspoon minced tarragon leaves
1 teaspoon whole black peppercorns plus ground black pepper
1 tablespoon sugar
Table salt
1/4 cup mayonnaise
1 small shallot , minced fine (about 2 tablespoons)
1 small stalk celery , minced (about 1/3 cup)

1. Combine shrimp, 1/4 cup lemon juice, reserved lemon halves, parsley sprigs, tarragon sprigs, whole peppercorns, sugar, and 1 teaspoon salt with 2 cups cold water in medium saucepan. Place saucepan over medium heat and cook shrimp, stirring several times, until pink, firm to touch, and centers are no longer translucent, 8 to 10 minutes (water should be just bubbling around edge of pan and register 165 degrees on instant-read thermometer). Remove pan from heat, cover, and let shrimp sit in broth for 2 minutes.

2. Meanwhile, fill medium bowl with ice water. Drain shrimp into colander, discard lemon halves, herbs, and spices. Immediately transfer shrimp to ice water to stop cooking and chill thoroughly, about 3 minutes. Remove shrimp from ice water and pat dry with paper towels.

3. Whisk together mayonnaise, shallot, celery, remaining tablespoon lemon juice, minced parsley, and minced tarragon in medium bowl. Cut shrimp in half lengthwise and then each half into thirds; add shrimp to mayonnaise mixture and toss to combine. Adjust seasoning with salt and pepper and serve.

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10 Responses to Flashback Friday – Some Assembly Required

  1. You can’t go wrong with anything from Cooks Illustrated (IMO). Love the sound of this one. Light, refreshing, cool and easy. Perfect for the summer months.

  2. shutterboo says:

    I can’t wait to make this!! Thank you for your brilliant thinking for alfresco dinner parties. 🙂

    • Wendi says:

      Brooke, I hope you like this recipe as much as I do. Don’t forget that the amounts given can be tweaked to your taste. Want a thinner dressing? Add more lemon juice. Don’t like lemon juice? Use white wine vinegar or champagne vinegar instead. Parsley? Totally optional. Make it your own hon.

  3. elizabeth says:

    I can easily picture eating this on top of some flatbread. Love it!

  4. Jenna says:

    Nice! I never even thought of having the fishmongers cook the shrimp–what a great idea (and a time saver). Also, I trust pretty much anything by Cook’s Illustrated, so I’m sure I’d love it.

    • Wendi says:

      Jenna, most grocers have cooked shrimp in their seafood case. Wegmans just happens to do theirs extraordinarily well.

      CI does a great job testing their recipes. But I’ve had some that looked good on paper but not so much on my plate.

  5. Top of the list for Summer munching. Yum. I love shrimp/prawns. Not sure I can order as you have, wonder what our version/substitution is? Hope you had a wonderful weekend and enjoy your week. 🙂

    • Wendi says:

      Anna, if perfectly seasoned precooked prawns aren’t available at the market (and believe me, I pay a premium for that), just use the cooking instructions in the recipe. You’re basically poaching the shrimp in super flavored liquid. Not quite a brine and not quite a court bouillon.

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