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061922 food column

Conquering My Culinary Bucket List One Dish at a Time
By Emily Banks Wooten

We were driving down some country roads one recent lazy Saturday afternoon when a Jimmy Buffett song came on the radio. Known for such hits as “Margaritaville,” “Cheeseburger in Paradise” and “Come Monday” among others, the famous singer-songwriter has referred to his music as “drunken Caribbean rock ‘n’ roll” and “Gulf and Western.” I’ve also heard it characterized as “island escapism.”

Hubby remarked on the fact that Buffett found his niche, became a brand and has amassed a fortune from said niche. And Hubby’s right. Buffett went into beer production with LandShark Lager under the Margaritaville Brewing label. He has Margaritaville restaurants, bars, casinos, resorts and retail stores. He even has several Latitude Margaritaville retirement villages in the works, a joint venture between a Canadian real estate company and his own Margaritaville Holdings.

Now before all you “parrotheads” come after us with pitchforks, don’t misunderstand. We’re fans of Buffett and enjoy his music and laidback lifestyle just as much as you do. We’re just amazed at the breadth and scope of such a relatively narrow niche. (For those who may be unaware, “parrothead” is a commonly used nickname for Buffett fans.)

Anyway, I’ve found myself inundated recently with a number of recipes for dishes infused with tequila that are reminiscent of margaritas. In honor of Father’s Day, I decided it was the perfect time to try out some of these. Elena Besser’s “One-Pan Tequila Shrimp” came together quickly on the stovetop and was a delightful meal. If you prefer grilling, then “Margarita Grilled Shrimp” from afarmgirlsdabbles.com will be right up your alley. “Chicken Margaritaville” is a wonderful recipe given to me many years ago by my friend Pam Riggs. And if you’re looking for something to sip on while enjoying all this goodness, then I highly recommend my friend Allison Evans’ recipe for margaritas. Happy Father’s Day to all!!


Margarita Grilled Shrimp

From afarmgirlsdabbles.com

1 lb. shrimp (16-20 per pound), peeled and deveined

  • ⅓ cup olive oil
  •  2 large garlic cloves, roughly chopped
  • 1 teaspoon minced jalapeno
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • ½ teaspoon black pepper
  • 2 teaspoon tequila, optional
  • Thin slices of fresh lime, if placing shrimp on skewers
  • Chopped cilantro
  • Wedges of fresh lime, for squeezing over top of grilled shrimp

• If using wood skewers, start soaking them in water. Place shrimp in a wide shallow bowl and set aside.

• In a small bowl with high sides, combine all ingredients from olive oil through black pepper. Use an immersion blender to completely process until there are no sizable pieces. Or use a food processor or blender. Pour marinade over shrimp and gently stir to coat evenly. Cover and refrigerate for 2 to 3 hours, folding gently about halfway through.

• Heat grill to medium-high. Make sure the grates are clean and then oil them well. Set shrimp on grates and grill for 3 to 4 minutes per side, or just until shrimp are no longer opaque and have some nice char. Smaller shrimp will take less time. Place shrimp on a platter and sprinkle with cilantro. Serve with fresh lime wedges to squeeze over the top.

My notes:
— If you wanted to skip the skewers, you could just grill these in a grill basket.
— I served this with white rice that I doctored up with some lime juice, chopped cilantro and chile powder.


One-Pan Tequila Shrimp

By Elena Besser

  • 1 lb. shrimp, peeled and deveined, tails on
  • ¼ cup tequila
  • 1 teaspoon agave nectar
  • 3 limes
  • 2 cloves garlic, grated
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 stick (8 tablespoons) unsalted butter, cut into 1-tablespoon slices
  • 1 loaf crusty bread, cut into 1-inch-thick slices
  • 2 jalapenos, 1 seeded and minced and 1 sliced into thin rounds
  • Cilantro sprigs or basil leaves, for garnish

• Put the shrimp, tequila, agave, zest and juice of 2 limes and garlic in a large bowl. Season with salt and pepper, toss together and marinate at room temperature for 5 to 10 minutes.

• Preheat a cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat, add the oil and heat until smoking.

• Cut the remaining 1 lime in half crosswise and set aside. Remove the shrimp from the marinade, reserving the marinade for later, and cook in batches until the shrimp is pink and cooked through, about 2 minutes per side. Transfer to a plate and set aside.

• Wipe out the skillet and set over medium heat. Add 3 tablespoons butter and swirl until melted. Add the bread slices and lime halves, cut-side down and cook until the bread is golden brown and toasted, 1 to 2 minutes per side. Transfer the bread and limes to a plate.

• Strain the reserved marinade into a medium bowl and discard the solids. Put the marinade liquid and minced jalapenos in the skillet and cook over medium heat until reduced by half, about 3 minutes. Reduce the heat to low, add the remaining 4 tablespoons butter and swirl until melted. Add the shrimp and toss together until coated.

• To plate, top the bread with the shrimp mixture, garnish with the jalapeno slices and fresh herbs and enjoy.

My notes:
— Although this recipe calls for a cast iron skillet, I was a little hesitant. I used a non-stick skillet instead.
— While the recipe calls for leaving the tails on, we agreed it would be easier to eat without the tails and would not affect the dish. Next time, we’ll take those off in advance.
— Hubby suggested using garlic bread for the base next time.


Allison’s Margaritas

  • 2 shots of Jose Cuervo tequila
  • 1 shot of agave nectar
  • Juice of 1 lim
  • Dash of lemon juice

— Stir well.
– Pour over ice.


 Chicken Margaritaville

By Pam Riggs

  •  4 boneless,skinless medium chicken breast halves
  • ½ teaspoon ground coriander
  • ⅛ teaspoon salt
  • Dash of pepper
  • Non-stick cooking spray
  • 1 tablespoon lime juice
  • 2 teaspoons cornstarch
  • ½ teaspoon sugar
  • ½ cup reduced sodium chicken broth
  • ½ cup orange juice
  • 1-2 tablespoons cilantro, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon tequila
  • Lime slices (optional
  • Fresh cilantro leaves (optional)

• Pat chicken dry with paper towels. Combine coriander, salt and pepper. Rub spice mixture onto chicken on both sides. Spray a cold large skillet with non-stick cooking spray. Preheat skillet over medium heat. Cook chicken in hot skillet for 8-10 minutes or until tender and no longer pink, turning once. Remove chicken from skillet and keep warm.

• For sauce, combine lime juice, cornstarch and sugar; set aside. Carefully add chicken broth and orange juice to the hot skillet. Stir in lime juice mixture. Cook and stir until thickened and bubbly. Cook for 1 minute more. Stir in cilantro and tequila. Spoon sauce over chicken. Garnish with lime slices and cilantro leaves, if desired.

• Serve with pasta – usually fettucine or angel hair. Use fresh lime.


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