TU-UYEN TRAN: A different kind of bro foodThe basic principle here is bro food should have intense flavors — lots of salt, say — it should take minimal effort to prepare, if any, it should go well with beer and you should be able to eat it with your hands.
By: Tu-Uyen Tran, Grand Forks Herald
When you think of the food that bros eat, you probably think of bacon, burgers, chips, dips, pizza, tacos and wings.
The basic principle here is bro food should have intense flavors — lots of salt, say — it should take minimal effort to prepare, if any, it should go well with beer and you should be able to eat it with your hands.
This came to me the other day while I was meditating on the topic of bro food; this is a regular occurrence for me. The next thing that came to me was that I know the perfect bro meal: A shrimp boil.
Now, the shrimp boil has never been in the repertoire of any of the bros I’ve known — I shared a condo with a bro once and his main cooking method was the Foreman grill — but it fits every criteria for good bro food.
It’s also never eaten alone, which fits a bro’s gregarious nature; after all, you’re not a bro if you’re not someone’s bro.
In case you don’t know what a shrimp boil is, it’s basically shrimp or any shellfish, sausage, potato and corn boiled in a pot with spice.
The flavors are intense, which means it pairs well with beer. I would suggest Bud Light or something watery like that because you’re trying to put out a fire not savor the brew. The only prep required is cutting ears of corn and sausage, and even that’s really optional.
There is some trick to the perfect shrimp boil, though. Timing is important because potatoes do not cook as quickly as shrimp. Leave shells on shrimps because they hold the flavor better. Pick smaller potatoes and don’t peel or cut them if you can avoid it or they may fall apart when boiled.
And, as I learned from a Cajun bro I met a few years ago while covering a hurricane in Louisiana, you’ll want to leave the shrimp sitting in the pot for a while to let it absorb the spice. He was talking about crawdads but the principle holds true with shrimp.
After everything is done, dump the whole mess into a communal tray, as I like to do, put some lemon wedges on the side and let your guests dig in with their hands.
Don’t forget the cheap beer.
Here’s how to hold your own shrimp boil. If you can do it outdoors, all the better:
1 gallon water
½ cup Old Bay Seasoning (There’s another brand, Zatarain’s, but the taste is too subtle for me.)
2 tablespoons salt
2 large onions, cut in half
2 lbs sausage such as andouille, smoked beef or kielbasa, cut into 3-inch sections (or not)
½ lb small to medium potatoes, unpeeled (cut in half if potatoes are too large)
6 ears corn, cut into 3-inch sections (or not)
4 lbs jumbo shrimp, deveined but unshelled
Add seasoning, salt and onions to the water and bring to a boil. In the meantime, microwave the sausage to melt some of the fat. This cuts down on the grease in the water. (If you choose not to cut the sausages, prick them with a fork, so they don’t explode in the microwave.) When the water is boiling, add potatoes and cook for 10 minutes. Add corn and cook for 5 minutes. Add sausage and cook for 5 more minutes. Add shrimp, cook for 2 minutes and remove from heat. Let sit for 10 minutes. Don’t worry, the water will still be hot, so shrimp will continue to cook even if it doesn’t look done when you remove it from the stove. Overcooked shrimp gets rubbery, so you have to time it right. Drain and dump into a tray. Serve with lemon wedges, salt and pepper (for potatoes) and beer.
Note: The photo accompanying this column may not match the results of this recipe. I used Zatarain’s instead of Old Bay as I did the last time I made a shrimp boil; as I advise above, Old Bay is better. I also mistakenly bought peeled shrimp.
More bro food
Want more bro food? How about bacon and beer?
Your prayers have been answered. The Bacon & Beer Festival is coming to Grand Forks’ Alerus Center 4 p.m. Oct. 5.
For $15, you get to sample beer and bacon-themed munchies from area restaurants. There’s also a bacon art and a bacon-eating contest, which aims to answer the question: “Can there ever too much of a good thing?”
Live music by 4onthefloor follows at 8 p.m. Never has there been a more appropriate band name for a beer fest.
For $35, you get VIP access, which includes a private lounge and private bathroom, early entry at 3 p.m. and “preferred viewing location” for the concert.
Call Tran at (701) 780-1248; (800) 477-6572, ext. 1248; or send email to email@example.com.