Monday, January 23, 2012

Buffalo Shrimp

I had a kind of a flash situation occurring--but these still look good, right?

I was so close to throwing it all away. Frank’s Red Hot and I were on a bus for Vegas, his glassy red-hot self beside me, promising me the world (of tailgate-style food), but I couldn’t go through with it. The thought of Michael raising the kids blandly without me, while I frolicked with my spicy love? I knew it was wrong. So deliciously wrong. But we’re still friends! Friends with benefits even, the benefits being vinegar and heat and chicken wings and quesadillas and Corn Chex nachos, and fantastic, if slightly damp, popcorn. Oh Frank’s, I don't just "like" you on facebook. I love you. (Speaking of, did you read this? It’s really good.)

Frank's has moved on, I see.
I love all things buffalo. I am the person who orders the Buffalo Chicken Salad, and you’re like, “What the? That’s not a salad! That’s fried chicken with blue cheese dressing and some lettuce shreds that by accident got underneath it!” And I’m like, “I don’t care.” I order buffalo chicken pizza from Bruno’s; I order buffalo chicken wraps when I see them. I would do my bedroom in buffalo chicken wallpaper.

But I don’t make buffalo chicken wings. Because we live a half mile from a bar that serves them, and even though Ben and Birdy are always the youngest people there by six years, and Michael and I are always the oldest people there by twenty years (are you getting a sense of the demographic?) we eat there at least once a month. Once a week, if we are flush or feeling flush. Because they have the best buffalo chicken wings in the world. Also glasses of beer so huge that, to lift one, you need two hands and the core strength of a college student who does either varsity hockey or pilates. (I just kind of lean over and slurp until I can pick it up.) We get the wings extra-spicy and extra-crispy, with an extra side of celery—and they are the wings of your wingiest wing fantasies: crunchy and juicy and pulling kind of stringily-but-cleanly off their bones, and drenched in enough vinegary, buttery, lip-tingling sauce to fill your daydreams for days. Sigh. (Note: the children eat Boneless Honey-Barbeque Wings because they are only children and Can’t Be Expected to Know Better.)

But I don’t even want to try to make buffalo wings, because you need to deep fry for them to be good, and I don’t deep fry at home. That’s one of my own personal rules: for bar or diner food, we go to bars or diners. Happily. So. What to do with the buffalo craving? Buffalo shrimp! Granted, I’ve never actually eaten buffalo shrimp except these that I make. And I’ll be damned if I’m going to dredge each shrimp in flour, egg wash, and bread crumbs before frying, like all the online recipes recommend. So this is my alternate method: rub them with cornmeal, and pan-fry them before soaking them in the usual Frank’s/butter magic. They are very easy, truly, and nothing short of wildly delicious. I just wish shrimp were cheaper. Buffalo tofu! I’m on it.

Buffalo Shrimp
Serves 4, as long as one person eats bread and goat cheese instead
Active time: 10 minutes; total time: 25 minutes

The cornmeal keeps a certain crispness alive, even after the saucing. Be prepared to crave this constantly.

1 pound medium shrimp, peeled and deveined (thaw frozen shrimp by running cold water over them in a colander for five or so minutes; I use frozen "Whole Catch" peeled, tail-on raw shrimp)
2 teaspoons kosher salt (or half as much table salt)
½ teaspoon Old Bay seasoning (this is optional, but I like the way the flavor cues me to the fact that I’m eating seafood, if you know what I mean)
1/3 cup cornmeal
1/4-1/3 cup vegetable oil (enough to coat the pan generously)
¼ cup Frank’s Original Red Hot
½ stick butter

Rub the shrimp with the salt and the Old Bay, then set it aside for 10 or 15 minutes. Drain it, then blot it well with paper towels. I always think about putting it in the salad spinner with a wad of paper towels, but then it seems like all our salad would be shrimpy forever after.

Sprinkle the cornmeal over the shrimp and rub it all together with your hands so that the shrimp are more or less coated.

Heat the Frank’s and butter together, in a small pot or the microwave, until the butter is melted.

In a wide nonstick skillet over medium heat, heat the oil until it is very hot but not smoking. Add all the shrimp to the pan in a single layer, and cook around three minutes, until the bottoms are golden and crusted. Flip the shrimp (I do each one individually, with tongs, and it is not as laborious as it sounds), then cook until golden, around 3 minutes more.

In a large bowl, toss the shrimp with the sauce (or keep some plain for kids who might like to dip in the sauce but not be smothered), then serve with celery sticks and blue cheese dressing.

Die, it's so good.

Shrimp tossed with salt and Old Bay. Don't skip the salting, okay? It makes them so meaty and good.

Shrimp tossed with cornmeal.

Frying the first side.

And the second.


Served in the classic style. Except that, sadly, many are already eaten.


  1. Anonymous5:59 PM

    This looks awesome enough that I, the sole Buffalo-style lover in my family, will break the "I'm only cooking one thing for dinner, so you better all eat it" rule to have this saucy-shrimpy goodness sometime soon.

  2. Oh, curse you shellfish allergy!!!!!!!

    I make buffalo wings. I don't bread them, so it's not necessary to deep fry them. While it is the absolute best way to make them, they can also be broiled until they're crispy (if you brush them with peanut oil first, they get extra crispy). You don't care anyway, though, because you don't make buffalo wings at home.

    1. I second this. Broiler wings are amazing.

  3. As someone who lives on the other side of the river - and avoids your side a lot between September and May - I am DYING to know where these wings are... I might dare to head east to UMass-ville if I knew where to go. Is it Rafters?
    My Ben-aged son is obsessed with Frank's. He sprinkles it on many things for school lunch, dips various non-chicken items in it, and we JUST (5 minutes ago) were talking about making fried calamari so he could dredge it in Frank's.
    I WILL be making this shrimp -- probably before the end of the week.

  4. Oh my. My mouth is watering. It started when I read your wing description. I do a very similar thing with shrimp but instead of Frank's, mix together mayo, Thai sweet chili sauce, and some chili powder. And now my mouth is even waterier.

  5. okay, i'm not saying i'd NEVER make wings. i mean, i'm an open kind of a person! i just won't deep-fry. and mariep, one word: HANGAR. extra-crispy, i'm telling you.

  6. I found this video helpful... How to eat the flat chicken wings.

  7. Wow. I used to get Buffalo Shrimp at a random, mediocre pizza place in Virginia. They were an appetizer, and my husband and I would go in and get 3 orders (or as many as we could order without feeling prohibitively embarrassed) as our whole meal (and no pizza). They were delicious, and we ate them with Ranch dressing! The whole thing always felt so wrong (seafood, Frank's, ranch), but they were so stinkin' delicious! SO excited to try these.

  8. Don't diss the buffalo tofu. It's on the menu at the very fabulous Tupelo Honey in Asheville, NC. It's good. Shrimp, I like way better, but tofu works too.

    I don't fry often, but if I have something that's going to be extra spattery, I take it out on the back porch and turn on the side car burner on the grill. That way the house doesn't smell like a greasy spoon.

  9. Love the "bread and goat cheese" comment you snuck in there at the beginning of the recipe. Bread and goat cheese is what my kids eat when they don't like whatever I make for dinner. Which means they eat a lot of bread and goat cheese. And I feel inappropriately proud of how my three little picky-pants will gladly eat a food that no one had ever heard of when I was growing up, even if it's just a version of cream cheese.

  10. Anonymous12:38 PM

    Don't discount making your can stay in your jammies for a full day of football watching or game playing without braving the elements! The key is to steam the wings for a few minutes, pat them dry, and to let them hang out on a cooling rack on a rimmed cookie sheet in the fridge for a bit before baking at high heat. Crispy all over and so healthy....except for all the butter.

  11. Dear Catherine- If you ever find yourself in Buffalo, I'd be happy to take you on a tour of the places where you can eat real wings. Some of them are bars, but the best wings come from pizza shops. (We don't call them buffalo wings here, obv.)

    I've never thought of making buffalo shrimp! This looks fantastic!!

  12. I went yesterday afternoon to get the ingredients for this and made it for dinner last night. YUMMY! I scooped them up, along with all of the yummy "goo" and served them over a bed of brown rice. It was so good...

  13. I can't wait to try this recipe! I used to order a bbq shrimp blt at a fave long gone restaurant, that was so yummy!

  14. and thanks for the Loving Frank book suggestion. I will hopefully be reading the book while eating the buffalo shrimp! (which is really a pipe dream for my life right now, but one can hope)

  15. Erin K.3:28 PM

    I'm totally going to try to make buffalo tofu - and will have to do a butter alternative...coconut oil? I wonder...

  16. Yelena9:14 AM

    I "lurve" shrimp, but my husband is allergic. Made your tamale pie for dinner last night, though, with ground turkey breast and doctored up with chopped frozen spinach and parsley. Didn't have any white flour for the corn bread, so used whole wheat and sprinkled in some dried rosemary. Kids had seconds and thirds, so I guess it was a success. (Unlike the time I tried to make "healthier" cupcakes and ended up with whole-wheat pucks of sweetened muffin-like stuff.)

  17. Anonymous10:34 AM

    Just thought I should tell you that I stock recipe cards in my desk at work now b/c of you! I got tired of seeing random post-its in my purse labeled "Catherine Recipe"- this one made it to the recipe card!!

  18. You know this is why I love you, right? You can be all ma ingalls one minute and chug-a-lug wings girl the next. Makes me throw up my hand and high five you all the way from michigan. Northern Michigan. where we have the BEST beer (shorts brewery-- google, not kidding. the. best) and the best chicken wings (mitchell street pub, even served with a bottle of franks for added measure). Write a cookbook, do a book tour!

  19. Damn. I went to UMass. I was that demographic. Now I'm depressed and hungry and need shrimp (I have the sauce!)

  20. Cheryl7:27 PM

    I smile now every time I see "half as much table salt". My thanks to the contributor of that name suggestion. Although of course, Ben and Birdy is just right - because as fantastic as your recipes are and as much as I can't wait to find out the next thing I'm going to try out for dinner, without Ben and Birdy updates, things would just lose a bit of their sparkle.

  21. Made this for the Super Bowl and it was damn tasty, but soooooooooooo salty. Might just soak with Old Bay next time. Also had to make my own blue cheese dressing, b/c there wasn't a single bottle or jar left in my grocery store. How Ma Ingalls is that?!

  22. Anonymous6:51 PM

    I just had these over grits. Sooooo yummy! Best shrimp and grits ever!

  23. Have you had buffalo chicken dip? It is amazing- I can email you the recipe, if you are interested. Also, you would LOVE these cupcakes my friends make at their cupcake store :

  24. Making these buffalo shrimp today for dinner!

  25. Made this for the Super Bowl and it was damn tasty, but soooooooooooo salty. Might just soak with Old Bay next time. Also had to make my own blue cheese dressing
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