Over the years, I've shared many, many of my favorite recipes here. Still, this one is hard to beat both for simplicity and robust flavor.
I really can't think of an easier dish to cook than this one. And yet, it is bursting with flavor thanks, in large part, to good ingredients: quality shellfish, spices and butter. With only three ingredients, the only way you can screw this up is to overcook the prawns. The key to not overcooking the prawns - thereby making them tough and chewy - is to poach them very slowly over moderate heat.
Trust me, you're going to love these prawns!
1 lb. large prawns or shrimp, shelled and deveined - about 13-15 per pound
1 cup (2 sticks) butter - I use unsalted butter but you could use salted, too.
1 Tbsp. Maryland-style seafood seasoning, such as Old Bay. If you'd like to make your own seasoning from scratch, my recipe is here.
Cut the butter sticks into 10-12 chunks.
In a bowl, toss the prawns with the spice seasoning.
Over medium heat, bring 1/4 cup water to a simmer in a pot just large enough to hold the prawns.
When the water comes to a simmer, put a couple chunks of butter into the pot and whisk until melted.
Repeat with the rest of the butter, 2-3 pieces at a time, until all the chunks are melted. You want the butter just to simmer lightly, not boil. That's why you don't put all of the butter into the pot at once. Doing it a couple pieces at a time helps keep the butter from boiling.
When all of the butter has melted and is slowly simmering, check the temperature with an instant-read thermometer. You want the temperature of the butter to be at about 170-180 degrees F.
Add the prawns to the pot and cook, stirring occasionally, until just cooked through, pink and tender, about 5-7 minutes, depending upon the size of the prawns.
Serve immediately drizzled with some of the butter from the pot.
I served the prawns with sauteed polenta, bathed in some of the prawn butter.
I find that a good Rose wine pairs well with the robust yet subtle flavors of the butter poached prawns.
Photos by Ted Scheffler