Ina Garten’s Simple Trick for the Best Shrimp Cocktail

Ina Garten’s Simple Trick for the Best Shrimp Cocktail

No more sad, rubbery shrimp.

There’s nothing I dislike seeing more at a party than a sad tray of limp, cold shrimp fanned around a seemingly bottomless bowl of cocktail sauce. It’s as if the grocer knew that the only way people could enjoy the cold, lifeless shrimp would be if they were drowned in sauce. Don’t be a victim of this shrimp-tragedy. Instead, use Ina Garten’s trick of roasting shrimp for your next party. 

Why Boiling May Not Be Your Best Option

Unless you live by an ocean, the shrimp you buy at the grocery store are likely frozen (or recently thawed). Most shrimp are flash-frozen on the boat to lock in freshness and flavor. This makes it so that by the time you thaw them for use in your recipe, they taste as delicious as the day they were caught. 

While there are plenty of great ways to prepare thawed, frozen shrimp, boiling them can be a risky endeavor. Mostly because you have to time it perfectly so that the shrimp are cooked, but not over-cooked. Too long in the hot water, and they’ll end up hard, rubbery and inedible. And if you plunge them in an ice bath to cool them off for shrimp cocktail, you have to make it quick so that they don’t soak up the water and become flabby and flavorless. There’s too much at risk!

Your Oven to the Rescue

You can avoid rubbery, sad shrimp by employing Ina Garten’s roasting technique. First, preheat your oven to 400 F. Next, peel large shrimp, but leave the tail intact. Remove the veins and give the shrimp a good rinse under cold water. Pat them dry with clean towels and toss with olive oil, salt, and pepper. Roast the shrimp until opaque and cooked through, 8 to 10 minutes. Let them cool and serve with Ina’s homemade cocktail sauce. 

Why I Like Ina Garten’s Technique

Like Ina, I prefer roasting my shrimp for shrimp cocktail. One of the biggest reasons is flavor. Unlike poaching or boiling, I can easily season my shrimp with salt and pepper or other seasonings. I also like this method because the shrimp come out tender and moist, thanks to a toss in olive oil and a quick trip in the oven. Finally, I like roasting my shrimp because it’s easy. I set my timer for 8 minutes and I don’t have to worry about water temperature or monitoring my shrimp like I would with poaching or boiling. 

You Can Do It Too

If it sounds too easy and too good to be true, it’s not. You can easily replicate Ina Garten’s roasted shrimp cocktail at home. Be sure to choose good-quality shrimp and let them thaw thoroughly (following package directions), before using. 

Rinsing the shrimp after deveining can help remove anything left behind, so don’t skip that step. Be sure to pat the shrimp dry so that they roast in your oven, instead of steam. Let them cool slightly before serving and enjoy with a small bowl of cocktail sauce.


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