Thursday, July 15, 2010

Grilled Shrimp Nachos + The Beach

A few shots from paradise . . . and an incredible recipe to enjoy either at home or with a few cold beers and friends on the beach.

Whenever you are cooking outdoors, it's best to prep as much as possible in advance at home.  This keeps your actual time away from friends & fun (cooking) to a minimum, and it also ensures you don't get to your location only to realize you are not prepared.  In this instance, I went ahead and prepped the shrimp, guacamole, and pico before hitting the beach.  Toss everything in a cooler that needs to be chilled and you are all set.  If preparing at home, follow the same process using a grill pan over medium-high heat on the stove, and finish things off in an oven heated to 425 degrees F.

Fair warning - these nachos are killer, but they do take some work.  Plan on 30 minutes of prep at home, and 15 - 20 minutes for assembly/cooking at the beach.

The key to great nachos is to ensure an even distribution of ingredients, so that each bite is consistent.  One of the biggest mistakes people make is creating a huge pile of chips with all of the ingredients loaded on top.  Of course, this creates that awkward group eating situation where one person goes for all of the good ingredients with every bite, only to leave behind a pile of chips for everyone else (you know who you are).  Instead, create layers by starting with chips, followed by a generous portion of beans and cheese.  As you work your way to the top, you can add your final ingredients, but rest assured, the bottom of the pile won't be a bland pile of chips.  Just trying to keep everyone happy out there.

Crack open a cold beer, and let's get to work.

Recipe serves 5 - 7 people

Prep (Shrimp, Guacamole, Pico)

3 lbs Large Shrimp
1/4 Cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 Lime, juiced
1 Jalapeno, seeded and diced
2 Cloves Garlic, minced
1/2 Teaspoon Kosher Salt
1/4 Teaspoon Fresh Cracked Pepper
1/2 Teaspoon Ground Cumin Powder

Peel and devein shrimp; add to a large Ziplock back.  Add the remaining ingredients, toss to combine, and keep sealed and refrigerated (in cooler) until ready for use.

2 Cloves Garlic, minced 
1 Teaspoon Kosher Salt
3 Large Ripe Hass Avocados, seeded and diced
1 Tablespoon Cilantro, diced
1/4 Medium Red Onion, finely diced
1 Lime, juiced

On a cutting board, combine kosher salt and minced garlic.  Using the flat side of a chef's knife, press down on the garlic - allowing the salt to work as an abrasive - working the knife back and forth until the garlic is broken down and forms a paste, about 1 - 2 minutes.  Add garlic paste to a bowl.  Combine the remaining ingredients into the bowl along with the garlic paste.  Using a fork, carefully mash together ingredients, leaving some chunks of avocado, until mixture is smooth and well combined.  Add more lime juice and salt to taste.  Place plastic wrap directly over the guacamole to prevent from browning, and store chilled until ready for use.

Pico de Gallo
3 Ripe Roma Tomatoes, seeded and diced
1/4 Medium Red Onion, finely diced
1 Jalapeno, seeded and diced
2 Cloves Garlic, minced
2 Tablespoons Cilantro, chopped
2 Tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 Lime, juiced
1/2 Teaspoon Kosher Salt

Add all ingredients to a mixing bowl, toss to combine, cover, and store chilled until ready for use.  Add more lime juice or salt to taste, if necessary.

Grilled Shrimp Nachos
1 Large Bag Yellow Corn Tortilla Chips
1 Large Bag Blue Corn Tortilla Chips
2 Cans Black Beans, drained
4 lbs Grated Cheese (Monterey Jack, Colby, Cheddar)
Shrimp, marinated
Sour Cream, Guacamole, Salsa, Pico (on the side)
2 Large Disposable Aluminum Lasagna Baking Pans
Aluminum Foil

On a charcoal/gas grill over direct heat, grill shrimp until just done (firm and pink), about 1 - 2 minutes per side.  Remove shrimp from grill, cover, and set aside.  Begin assembling nachos by placing a layer of chips in the bottom of each tray.  Top with a generous portion of black beans and cheese.  Repeat with another layer of chips, beans, and cheese.  Next, top with grilled shrimp and pico.  Cover trays with aluminum foil and place on the grill over indirect heat, cover, and cook until cheese is melted and ingredients are heated through, about 4 - 6 minutes.  Remove from heat and serve alongside sour cream, guacamole, salsa, and remaining pico.

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