From America's Test Kitchen Season 7: Summer Cooking
Great grilled shrimp—tender, moist, and flavorful—are hard to come by. Usually, they’re overcooked and rubbery, giving the jaws a workout, thanks to their quick cooking time and the high temperature of the grill. Grilling shrimp in their shells can guarantee juiciness, but the seasoning tends to be lost when the shells are pulled off. We wanted tender, juicy, boldly seasoned grilled shrimp, with the flavor in the shrimp and not on our fingers.
Our decision to go with peeled shrimp for this recipe meant we had to revisit how we traditionally grilled shrimp. First we eliminated brining, which created waterlogged shrimp and hindered caramelization. Then we set the shrimp over a screaming-hot fire. This worked well with jumbo shrimp, but smaller shrimp overcooked before charring. With jumbo shrimp costing as much as $25 per pound, we decided against them. They did give us an idea, though. For our next step, we created faux jumbo shrimp by cramming a skewer with several normal-sized shrimp pressed tightly together. Our final revision was to take the shrimp off the fire before they were completely cooked (but after they had picked up attractive grill marks). We finished cooking them in a heated sauce waiting on the cool side of the grill; this final simmer gave them tons of flavor.
Serves 4 as a main course, 6 as an appetizer
The shrimp and sauce (see related recipes) finish cooking together on the grill, so prepare the sauce ingredients while the coals are heating, then carry them out to the grill with you. To fit all of the shrimp on the cooking grate at once, you’ll need three 14-inch metal skewers. (Wooden skewers will likely burn.) Serve with grilled crusty bread brushed with olive oil as an appetizer; add rice salad or couscous for a main course.