Ina Garten's Super Bowl Shrimp Come With A Hassle-Free Twist

While many home cooks may be planning to make buffalo wings, queso, and pigs-in-a-blanket for Super Bowl LVIII, Ina Garten — the hostess with the mostest — has shrimp on her mind as part of her fabulous spread. Leave it to Garten to class-up game day snacking and make a lighter recipe with shrimp cocktail that can still hold its own alongside all the fried, bready, cheesy usual suspects. 

Garten is not talking about the typically lengthy process that includes cleaning the shrimp, poaching them in a big pot of water, shocking them in ice, and peeling them one-by-one. Instead, she opts for shrimp that are already peeled and cleaned, and quickly roasts them in the oven. You can go ahead and serve them hot, too, although Garten chills them first. Either way, you'll want to throw the shrimp right on a pretty platter alongside a delicious creamy sauce inspired by a classic Crab Louie salad dressing. From top to bottom, this preparation should not take longer than 30 minutes.

How Ina Garten makes roasted shrimp cocktail flavorful

If you're using the boiling or poaching method for your shrimp cocktail, you'll have to first prepare a flavorful water bath to cook the shrimp in, which requires essentially making a stock first. Leaving the shells on while they cook also imparts extra flavor into the meat of the crustacean itself. And while, yes, cooking them in this way does make for tasty and tender shrimp, it also means you have got quite a bit of peeling ahead of you. 

However, Ina Garten saves a ton of time and still achieves big flavor and great texture by cooking the shrimp in the oven. First, she seasons them with salt, black pepper, and olive oil. Then she cooks them at high heat in an oven set to 400 degrees Fahrenheit, but only for 10 minutes until they are only barely cooked. A brief pass in the oven is key. Otherwise, the shrimp can easily turn tough and rubbery.

The other tasty trick in Garten's shrimp cocktail is the dipping sauce. Instead of the usual tomatoey cocktail sauce, she makes a mayonnaise-based dip instead. It has some of the same ingredients like lemon juice and zest, Worchestire sauce, prepared horseradish, and Heinz chili sauce, which is like a zippier ketchup. She incorporates brightness with capers and fresh scallions, and gives it a little kick with some sriracha sauce.

Buy the right shrimp first

To prepare for your trip to the grocery store, it helps to know that shrimp sizing is indicated by number ranges. The higher the numbers, the smaller the shrimp. That is because those numbers represent a range of how many individual shrimps will make up a full pound. The numbers that constitute different designations like large, jumbo, and colossal vary by company, too, so Ina Garten's foolproof advice for buying shrimp is to focus on those numbers instead of the category names. 

For her roasted recipe, Garten suggests purchasing 16- to 20-count shrimp. Buy them peeled and deveined to save yourself time, but make sure they still have the tails on. They provide a little handle to hold on to, and the tail helps to create a better presentation, too.

How many shrimp per person you should serve at a party depends on the size, so calculating about a quarter-pound for each guest is a good starting point for an appetizer portion. For Garten's recipe, that is about four to five shrimp each, though you could cut back some if you have lots of other snacking options.

Fresh or frozen shrimp work here as well. In fact, most shrimp in the seafood case that appears fresh at first glance has already been previously frozen. You are more likely to find truly fresh shrimp when buying from a trusted seafood monger or in a coastal area where fishermen sell directly to consumers. Otherwise, frozen shrimp is often a better option as it is typically frozen soon after it is caught to maintain quality.