From America's Test Kitchen Season 8: Two Ways with Shrimp
Just about every all-purpose cookbook includes a recipe for a casserole of shrimp in a sherry-garlic sauce topped with bread crumbs, but the ones we tried produced rubbery shrimp and gluey toppings. We wanted all the potent flavors and contrasting textures that the name of this dish promises—tender, moist shrimp infused with garlic and blanketed with crisp, buttery bread crumbs. Most recipes call for cooking the shrimp twice, first poaching them on the stovetop and then baking them in the casserole dish. No wonder they’re usually overdone! Our experiments with skipping the poaching weren’t very successful—the shrimp were just plain bland—so we abandoned the oven altogether and decided to make the entire dish in a skillet on top of the stove. After searing the shrimp on one side, sprinkled with a pinch of sugar to promote browning, we removed them to build the sauce; we would add the shrimp back at the end to heat through and finish cooking. For the sauce, we started with garlic. Sherry alone tasted too boozy, so we cut it with clam juice, which underscored the briny flavor of the shrimp. A pinch of flour and some butter thickened the sauce, and lemon juice brightened everything up. A chewy supermarket baguette made the perfect buttery bread crumbs; sprinkled on at the last minute, they were sturdy enough to stay crisp on the saucy shrimp. Our modernized skillet “casserole” was definitely an improvement on the tired old version.
Vermouth can be substituted for the sherry. If using vermouth, increase the amount to 1/2 cup and reduce the amount of clam juice to 1/2 cup. To prepare this recipe in a 10-inch skillet, brown the shrimp in 3 batches for about 2 minutes each, using 2 teaspoons oil per batch. Serve the shrimp with rice and either broccoli or asparagus.