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Shrimp Cocktail Gets A Smoky Upgrade On The Grill

Shrimp cocktail on a crystal plate in miniature cups of cocktail sauce
Shrimp cocktail on a crystal plate in miniature cups of cocktail sauce - Boogich/Getty Images

Shrimp cocktail's longstanding dominance as one of the go-tos for elegant party appetizers is an impressive feat. A testament to the delicious nature of shrimp itself, the presentation requires no heavy breading, rubs, or butter drenches to make it appealing. Just a quick swim in some seasoned boiling water and you can lay the sea creatures on ice to serve to your guests with a side of cocktail sauce. Still, it stands to reason that a dish this simple could easily be enhanced.

Though the traditional preparation generally calls for poaching the shrimp, a bit of smoky char from the grill will majorly improve their flavor profile. If you were planning on firing up the Weber anyway for a get-together with guests, why not dazzle them with such a clever, tasty twist on this gold-standard app?

If you need more convincing, upgrading the humble shrimp cocktail with your trusty grill is a move approved by the pros, including barbecue and grilling expert Steven Raichlen and Canadian culinary personality Mary Berg. Raichlen takes advantage of grilling's high heat, which adds char and locks in a coating of spices (in a pinch, he likes the unexpectedly Jewish seasoning blend Old Bay). Berg, meanwhile, grills lemon wedges alongside the shrimp, mixing the flame-kissed fruit juice into her cocktail sauce. However, you choose to give it a flavor boost, the most crucial step when making a shrimp cocktail this way is mastering the grill.

Read more: 13 Tips To Make Your Shrimp Taste So Much Better

All Fired Up

Shrimp on a fiery charcoal grill
Shrimp on a fiery charcoal grill - amenic181/Shutterstock

The simplicity of a grilled shrimp cocktail makes it a slam dunk, and preparing it is as easy as poaching would be. To get the flavors going right off the bat, it's important to marinate the peeled and deveined shrimp -- even a simple mix of minced garlic, fresh minced dill, a few tablespoons of olive oil, and the juice of a lemon will make a substantial impact. Note -- jumbo or colossal shrimp always work best for any type of shrimp cocktail, as they pack a visual "oomph" and heartiness you won't be able to match with smaller varieties.

After 10 minutes or so in the marinade, the shrimp should be ready to hit the grill. Since the goal is to add char and smokiness, a charcoal grill is ideal, but gas works, too. If using charcoal, tossing a few presoaked mesquite or hickory chips into the fire will do wonders to enhance the woodsmoke flavor. The shrimp will cook quickly — it should only take two or three minutes on each side, depending on their thickness. You'll know they are done when they turn pink, are opaque, and have a few bits of char around the edge. Once off the grill, you can serve the shrimp right away, store them in the fridge for later, or allow them to cool before serving them at room temperature or on ice. Serve with a delicious, simple cocktail sauce for dipping, or craft an eye-catching shrimp cocktail salad.

Read the original article on Daily Meal.