Potted shrimp is a British dish once used for preservation. Butter was ladled over cooked shrimp, sealing the crock, and protecting the seafood in much the same way as a French confit protects cooked duck. This version uses less butter and a little cream cheese and can be made a day in advance. Remove the dish from the refrigerator about 1 hour before serving.
4 tablespoons butter, at room temperature
2 shallots, thinly sliced
1 clove garlic, crushed
1/2 pound (about 15 large) shrimp, peeled and deveined
Salt, to taste
2 tablespoons sherry
1/3 cup cream cheese, at room temperature
2 scallions, chopped
Grated rind and juice of 1/2 lemon
Pinch of cayenne pepper
1. In a large skillet over medium-high heat, heat 1 tablespoon butter. Add the shallots and garlic. Cook, stirring often, for 3 minutes, or until tender.
2. Add shrimp and sprinkle with salt. Cook, tossing the shrimp, for 2 minutes. Add sherry, and cook for 1 minute or until the shrimp are cooked through and sherry has reduced to a syrup. Set aside to cool completely.
3. In a food processor, blend the remaining 3 tablespoons butter with the cream cheese. Scrape down the sides of the work bowl. Add scallions, lemon rind and juice, cayenne pepper, and shrimp mixture. Pulse quickly until just combined. Do not work the mixture into a puree. It should be chunky. Taste for seasoning, and add more salt and cayenne, if you like.
4. Transfer to a bowl and press a piece of plastic wrap directly onto the surface of the mixture. Cover with more plastic wrap. Refrigerate overnight. Serve with toast or crackers.
Karoline Boehm Goodnick