Bourbon Shrimp with Baby Spinach

I learned about layering flavors watching my grandmother roast chicken; layering textures came later. Here the sweet bourbon glaze reinforces the natural sweetness of the shrimp, while tender, silky spinach provides the counterpoint. If you can find them, use head-on shrimp. Eating them with their heads on changes the whole dining experience. It makes it more of a feast. I grew up eating crayfish and shrimp this way in Sweden, holding the heads in our fingers and sucking what we called “the good stuff.” Whatever shrimp you cook, eat them with your fingers. This is not the time for refinement.
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  • Level: Easy
  • Total: 20 min
  • Active: 20 min
  • Yield: 4 servings as an appetizer or 2 as a main dish
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Ingredients

12 jumbo shrimp, peeled, tails left on

3 tablespoons olive oil 

1/2 teaspoon plus a pinch smoked paprika 

Kosher salt 

Freshly ground black pepper 

5 tablespoons unsalted butter 

3 cloves garlic, minced 

2 tablespoons soy sauce 

2 tablespoons bourbon 

1 tablespoon honey 

2 cups baby spinach 

4 tablespoons chopped fresh basil 

4 tablespoons chopped fresh mint 

2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice, plus more for serving 

Directions

  1. Toss the shrimp with the olive oil, 1/2 teaspoon paprika, salt, and pepper in a large bowl.
  2. Heat a large saute pan over high heat. Melt 2 tablespoons butter, then add the shrimp in batches and saute until pink and curled, about 2 minutes on each side. Transfer to a platter. 
  3. Add the garlic, soy sauce, bourbon, honey, and 1 tablespoon butter to the skillet. Cook for 1 minute, then remove from the heat. Stir in the baby spinach, 2 tablespoons chopped basil, and 2 tablespoons chopped mint. Add the remaining pinch of paprika and 2 tablespoons butter and stir until the spinach wilts.  
  4. Add the cooked shrimp and top with the lemon juice. 
  5. Scatter the remaining 2 tablespoons chopped basil and 2 tablespoons chopped mint on a serving platter, then top with the spinach and cooked shrimp. Spoon any glaze in the pan over the top and squeeze lemon juice over the top before serving.
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