Shrimp go wild with jalapenos, garlic, cumin and cayenne

Jolts of grill flavor and spicy heat can enhance the delicately sweet and briny flavor of shrimp, but it’s easy to overdo it. Most recipes overcook the shrimp and finish them in a bath of mouth-numbing sauce; we wanted juicy shrimp with a smoky crust and chili flavor that was more than just superficial.
To achieve this, we sprinkled one side of the shrimp with sugar to promote browning and grilled this side for a few minutes. Then we flipped the skewers to finish gently cooking on the cooler side of the grill.
We created a flavorful marinade with pureed jalapenos, garlic, cumin, and cayenne to give our shrimp skewers a spicy, assertive kick, and then set some aside to double as a sauce. Butterflying the shrimp before marinating and grilling them opened up more shrimp flesh for the marinade and finishing sauce to flavor. We also packed the shrimp very tightly onto the skewers so they would cook more slowly.
GRILLED JALAPENO AND LIME SHRIMP SKEWERS
Start to finish: 2 hours
(20 minutes active)
Marinade:
1-2 jalapeno chills, stemmed, seeded, and chopped
3 Tbsp. olive oil
6 garlic cloves, minced
1 tsp. grated lime zest plus 5 tablespoons juice (3 limes)
½ tsp. ground cumin
¼ tsp. cayenne pepper
½ tsp. salt
Shrimp:
1½ pounds extra-large shrimp (21 to 25 per pound), peeled and deveined
½ tsp. sugar
1 Tbsp. minced fresh cilantro
Also needed are four 14-inch metal skewers.
Process all marinade ingredients in food processor until smooth, about 15 seconds. Reserve 2 tablespoons marinade; transfer remaining marinade to medium bowl.
Pat shrimp dry with paper towels. To butterfly shrimp, use paring knife to make shallow cut down outside curve of shrimp. Add shrimp to bowl with marinade and toss to coat. Cover and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes or up to 1 hour.
—For a charcoal grill: Open bottom vent completely. Light large chimney starter filled with charcoal briquettes (6 quarts). When top coals are partially covered with ash, pour evenly over half of grill. Set cooking grate in place, cover and open lid vent completely. Heat grill until hot, about 5 minutes.
—For a gas grill: Turn all burners to high, cover and heat grill until hot, about 15 minutes. Leave all burners on high.
Thread marinated shrimp onto the metal skewers. (Alternate direction of each shrimp as you pack them tightly on skewer to allow about a dozen shrimp to fit snugly on each skewer.)
Sprinkle one side of skewered shrimp with sugar. Place shrimp skewers sugared-side down on hotter side of grill (covered if using gas) and cook until lightly charred, 3 to 4 minutes. Flip skewers and move to cooler side of grill (if using charcoal) or turn all burners off (if using gas) and cook, covered, until other side of shrimp is no longer translucent, 1 to 2 minutes. Using tongs, slide shrimp into clean medium bowl and toss with reserved marinade. Sprinkle with cilantro and serve.
Servings: 4
Nutrition information per serving: 211 calories; 91 calories from fat; 10 g fat (2 g saturated; 0 g trans fats); 214 mg cholesterol; 1110 mg sodium; 6 g carbohydrate; 0 g fiber; 1 g sugar; 24 g protein.
—America’s Test Kitchen provided this article to The Associated Press

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