I first had Shrimp DeJonghe at a dinner party in 1978. Here's the batch I made tonight.
I loved it the first time I had it, but for whatever reason (maybe the amount of butter involved?!?), I have only cooked it a few times. Bill said he'd never had it before, which means I haven't made it since August 1990.
I have to admit I lightened mine up--using lots of herbs, spices, garlic, sherry, and panko but less butter. I mostly followed this recipe from Epicurious.com, but based on what I knew of the dish's provenance (invented in late 19th or early 20th c at DeJonghe's Restaurant & Hotel in Chicago) and perusal of some other recipes for the dish, I added sherry and a little cayenne to the herb/butter mixture and used less butter. Oh, and I didn't pre-cook the shrimp for one minute as the Epicurious recipe directs. As quickly as shrimp cooks, that just seemed silly.
It's really easy. Preheat oven to 350. Peel large shrimp and place them in a baking dish. I used a deep pie dish.
Mix softened butter, minced garlic, minced shallots, sherry, panko, tarragon, parsley, thyme, cayenne, salt, pepper, and a little freshly grated nutmeg. It'll be sort of pasty. Drop pieces of it on top of the shrimp.
Envisioning how much butter that was going to be when melted, I reserved some of the mixture for another use.
This next step may seem overkill, but it's what helps make the top of the dish crunchy. Mix melted butter, panko, salt, and pepper. I made mine more crumbly than buttery.
Sprinkle the buttery crumbs on top of the whole dish. I started to reserve some of the buttered crumbs for another use, but in a what-the-heck-move, I used them all. Here is the Shrimp DeJonghe ready for the oven.
While the shrimp baked for 15 minutes, I threw together a salad of spinach, pink grapefruit, sliced red onions, toasted slivered almonds and a dressing made with grapefruit juice, white wine vinegar, olive oil, coarse-grain mustard, minced garlic, and honey and topped the whole thing with some toasted poppy seeds.
Note the smaller dish? That's for the buttery shrimp.
The Shrimp DeJonghe was delicious--even with a minor screw up on my part. Distracted by pan cleaning and dancing to doo wop on Pandora, I left the shrimp under the broiler--the final step--for a tad too long. I recommend taking the dish out when the crumbs are merely browned as opposed to slightly blackened. I have to say the blackening makes for a less photogenic dish, but it didn't affect the taste.
After his first serving, Bill said something along the lines of "Don't make this again--it was way too good." I will admit that we ate every bite--a pound of buttered, herbed, seasoned, crumbed shrimp. The missing butter wasn't missed and made it a healthier but still delicious dish. Note: Multiple additional helpings do lessen the effectiveness of the small entree plate!
Shrimp de Jonghe and a big plate of spinach salad. That's what we're having.