For a long time I avoided Old Bay Seasoning, associating it with mildewy summer cabins, flimsy silverware and cobwebby, underused spice cabinets. Only in the past couple of years have I realized that as long as it's reasonably fresh, it's good stuff, with its widely applicable base of celery seed and paprika and warming spices. It doesn't even have MSG (or "hydrolyzed vegetable/wheat/soy protein" — different name for the same thing), like so many other spice mixes you can find on supermarket shelves. I had the time of my life licking the Old Bay right off these shrimp shells, and so did my son. This recipe is adapted from Grill It! by Chris Schlesinger and John Willoughby (DK Publishing 2010).
Makes 4 appetizer servings
1 pound medium-large (16/20 per pound) shrimp, rinsed and drained
2 tablespoons olive oil
Salt and freshly cracked black pepper, to taste
Juice of 2 lemons (about 1/2 cup)
1/4 cup roughly chopped fresh basil
3 tablespoons butter, at room temperature
2 tablespoons minced garlic
1 tablespoon Old Bay Seasoning
6 dashes Tabasco sauce
Kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper, to taste
Build a fire in grill. When the coals are all ignited, the fire has died down and the temperature is medium, you're ready to cook.
Using a small, sharp knife or small scissors, slit the shell along the back of each shrimp, and remove the vein. Toss the shrimp with the oil and salt and pepper in a large bowl. Put the shrimp on the grill over the coals and cook until they are opaque throughout (4 to 5 minutes per side). To check for doneness, cut into one of the shrimp at its thickest point to be sure it is opaque all the way through.
While the shrimp are cooking, combine the lemon juice, basil, butter, garlic, Old Bay Seasoning, Tabasco, salt and pepper in a large bowl and mix together well. When the shrimp are done, add them to the bowl and toss gently until the butter is melted and the shrimp are nicely coated. Serve the shrimp right out of the bowl, with another big bowl on the side for the shells.