(Barbecued Shrimp with a Corn and Goat Cheese Torta)

  • Criolla Tomato Mama (see recipe below)
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 cup fresh sweet corn kernels
  • Salt and black pepper to taste
  • 1 tablespoon heavy cream
  • 1 ounce soft chèvre (goat cheese)
  • Corn Kernel Cakes (see recipe below)
  • 2 tablespoons virgin olive oil
  • 1 shallot, thinly sliced
  • 12 large shrimp (about 10-12 ounces), peeled and deveined

Beef Stock

  • 4 1/2 pounds beef neckbones
  • 4 1/2 pounds veal bones
  • 1/4 cup peanut oil
  • 2 onions, roughly chopped
  • 2 large carrots, peeled and roughly chopped
  • 4 large stalks celery, roughly chopped
  • 2 heads garlic, cut horizontally in half
  • 6 to 8 quarts water, or enough to cover
  • 3 bay leaves, broken in half
  • 20 sprigs thyme
  • 20 sprigs Italian parsley
  • 1 tablespoon black peppercorns, toasted (see recipe below)

You can serve this dish with rice instead of the torta. If you add a few more shrimp, this dish will make a nice dinner. The Criolla Mama sauce will keep refrigerated for up to a week, and it freezes well.

Prepare the Criolla Mama Sauce. Preheat the oven to 300 degrees.

Bring a skillet to high heat and add the butter. When it begins to foam, add the garlic. Cook for a few seconds, then add the corn, salt, and pepper. Cook the corn until it begins to blister, about 2 minutes. Add the cream and heat through. Transfer the mixture to a mixing bowl, add the chèvre, and mix well.

Prepare the corn cakes. Arrange eight of them on a work surface and spread four of them with an equal amount of the corn and chèvre mixture.Top each with another cake. Place this torta on an ovenproof platter and keep warm in the oven.

Heat a large cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat and when very hot, add the olive oil and then the shallot. Season the shrimp with salt and pepper and add to the skillet, stirring rapidly. When the shrimp are just cooked (2 to 3 minutes), add the Criolla Mama sauce, stir, and heat through. Remove the skillet from the heat.

Place a stack of cakes on the center of each serving plate. Prop 3 shrimp around it and spoon the sauce over the shrimp and around the torta. Serve the extra corn cakes on the side.

Serves 4

Criolla Tomato Mama

Makes about 2 cups.

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 ounce smoked bacon, diced
  • 1 Scotch Bonnet chile, seeded and minced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1/3 red onion, diced
  • 1 large stalk celery, diced
  • 1 small red bell pepper, seeded and diced
  • 1 small yellow bell pepper, seeded and diced
  • 2 tablespoons Spanish sherry vinegar
  • 1 bay leaf, broken
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne
  • 2/3 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/3 teaspoon salt
  • 2/3 teaspoon Tabasco® sauce
  • 1 tablespoon chopped thyme leaves
  • 1 tablespoon chopped basil leaves
  • 1 tablespoon chopped oregano leaves
  • 1 cup clam juice
  • 1 1/2 cups concassé tomatoes (2 large tomatoes) or 1 (14.5 ounce) can diced tomatoes, drained

Heat the olive oil in a large, heavy saucepan and sauté the bacon over medium heat until it is almost cooked. Add the Scotch Bonnet and garlic, and sauté for about 1 minute, stirring occasionally.

Add the butter, sugar, onion, celery, and bell peppers. Turn up the heat to medium-high and sauté for 10 to 15 minutes, or until the vegetables just begin to caramelize. Add the vinegar and reduce the heat to medium. Add the bay leaf, cayenne, black pepper, salt, Tabasco, thyme, basil, oregano, and 1/2 cup of the stock, and cook for 3 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the remaining stock and the tomatoes, and cook for 15 minutes longer, stirring occasionally. Adjust the seasoning and keep warm. (If making ahead of time, keep refrigerated.)

Serves 8 to 10

Preheat the oven to 300 degrees.

Put the garlic heads cut side down in a small casserole or ovenproof pot and pour the olive oil over them. Add the thyme and pepper. Cover with a lid or foil and bake for 45 minutes to 1 hour, until the garlic is soft enough to mash.

Remove the garlic from the oil and set aside.

Strain the oil into a bowl and let cool, then pour into an airtight container. The oil will keep for at least a month.

Makes 2 2/3 cups 

Corn Kernel Cakes

  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 tablespoon virgin olive oil
  • 3 large carrots, peeled and roughly chopped
  • 1 large onion, roughly chopped
  • 3 large stalks celery, roughly chopped
  • 1 cup dry white wine
  • 6 sprigs thyme
  • 6 sprigs Italian parsley
  • 6 basil leaves
  • 2 bay leaves, broken in half
  • 1 tablespoon black peppercorns, toasted (see recipe below)
  • 3 to 4 pounds chicken bones, wings, backs, and/or necks
  • 10 to 12 cups water, or enough to cover

Heat the butter and olive oil in a large stockpot over medium heat. When the butter begins to foam, add the carrots, onion, celery, garlic, and mushrooms. Sauté the vegetables, stirring occasionally, until golden brown, about 10 minutes.

Add the white wine and stir, then add the herbs, peppercorns, chicken bones, and water and bring just to a simmer. Turn the heat to low, skim off any impurities that have risen to the surface (don’t stir, or the stock will be cloudy), and simmer, uncovered, for 2 1/2 hours.

Strain the stock first through a colander, then through a fine-mesh strainer (or cheesecloth-lined colander) into a stainless steel bowl or container. Chill the stock in an ice-water bath. (This not only kills harmful bacteria, it prevents you from having to put steaming-hot stock into your refrigerator – and inadvertently heating it and its contents.) Then refrigerate until chilled, or, preferably, overnight.

Skim any fat from the top of the stock, and transfer to airtight containers. The stock will keep for 3 days in the refrigerator, or you can freeze it for up to 6 months.

Makes 7 cups

Toasted Black Peppercorns

Gently warm the peppercorns in a dry skillet over medium heat. Once they become aromatic, they are toasted.