Paesano’s restaurant in San Antonio owes much of its fame to just one delicious dish: Shrimp Paesano. Made with colossal shrimp lightly coated with flour, that are sautéed and broiled, and then served with a hollandaise-type sauce that includes garlic and extra lemon juice, it is truly fare for royalty. So popular is the dish that it can be found in one form or another in almost any Italian restaurant in San Antonio—and probably in a lot of other places, as well.
The recipe is widely available on the internet and is pretty easy to make. But while hollandaise sauces can be made in a blender, without a bain marie or water bath and all the whisking, they can be finicky and prone to separate. I wanted something for weekend nights that would come together in just minutes with very little fussing. I thought of using a beurre blanc, which is basically a hollandaise without the egg yolk to bind the lemon juice and butter into sauce consistency—but that omission makes it tricky to prepare and hold until you are ready to serve. Then an internet search yielded a buerre blanc recipe by Jamie Oliver that is both terrific and easy. I adapted it to the shrimp recipe and, wanting it to be even more savory, added a touch of chipotle and substituted cilantro and lime juice for the original parsley and lemon juice. The only special equipment needed is a 16 ounce vacuum container or thermos designed to keep liquids warm. Although the recipe calls for colossal shrimp (about 8 - 10 per pound) it can be made with smaller, less expensive shrimp, down to about 21 – 25 per pound.
Some readers will undoubtedly look askance at the amount of butter, particularly since my new book, Naturally healthy Mexican Cooking, Authentic Recipes for Dieters, Diabetics, & All Food Lovers will be released in a few months. There is indeed a lot of butter in the dish.
But wait! Testing indicates that most diners use no more than half the sauce. Assuming half the sauce, the recipe produces about 400 calories per serving with 33 total fat grams, of which 16 grams are saturated. It’s pretty hard to find a diet meal for 400 calories, much less one that’s also a delicious splurge! Of course the 74% of calories from fat and 16 grams from saturated fat are nothing to write home about.
But wait again! The recipe is also excellent when made with a butter substitute, such as Smart Balance. That option brings the total calories down to 320 per serving with 24 grams fat, of which only 5 grams are saturated. Not something I’d have every day, but a dish this delectable can turn a weeknight dinner into a clelbration once or twice a month, while doing no damage to your waistline!
½ cup all purpose flour
½ teaspoon salt
1 pound colossal or smaller shrimp, peeled with tails left on
¼ cup milk
16 tablespoons (2 sticks) butter or Smart Balance butter substitute made with olive
2 large cloves garlic, minced or put through a garlic press
3 tablespoons lime juice
1 tablespoon pureed canned chipotle chile
2 tablespoons minced cilantro
2 tablespoons minced chives
1/3 cup canola oil
1. Coat the shrimp. Mix the flour and salt in a plastic bag or a plastic container with a secure lid. Dip the shrimp into the milk and add them to the flour. Hold the sack closed, or put the lid on the container and shake to coat the shrimp. Shake off any excess flour and refrigerate until you are ready to cook them—up to several hours.
2. Prepare the butter. Cut the butter or butter substitute into small pieces and allow it to come to room temperature. Put 2 tablespoons of the butter in a small glass dish and microwave until just melted. Add the minced garlic and microwave until it is soft, about 30 seconds. Put the garlic-butter mixture into a refrigerator until it just begins to become solid and then add it to the rest of the butter.
3. Make the sauce. Up to 15 minutes before you cook the shrimp, fill your vacuum container with boiling water, screw on the top and let it sit for 5 minutes. Remove the lid, discard all the water, and add the butter, lime juice, chipotle, cilantro and chives and replace the top. Shake the container vigorously for 1 minute.
4. Cook the shrimp. Heat a 10 inch skillet over medium to medium-high heat and add the canola oil. As soon as it begins to shimmer, add the coated shrimp. Cook them until golden on one side then turn and repeat. The actual time will depend on the heat level and size of your shrimp. Cooked at medium, the colossal ones are usually cooked through about when they are golden on both sides. Small shrimp will need more heat or they will be overdone before they brown.
Serve. Shake the sauce vigorously for a few seconds and pour equal portions onto each of four serving plates. Place the shrimp on top of the sauce. Serves 4.