The last of the hummingbirds had made their way through our little refuge, soaking in the sugar water and providing one last performance of the season. With their departure, it seems, the daylight also decided to wind down, retiring earlier in the evening to allow the moonlight to have its time to shine.
As often follows this sort of deep thinking, I get hungry, and today, one thing was for certain. Ever since I ran across a photo of a crispy, charred and caramelized red onion,it haunted and taunted my taste buds. I wanted one. Bad. Real bad. Embarrassingly bad.
And so my thought was that I was going to have grilled red onions with my dinner, whatever that may be. The thoughts and ideas flew in and just as quickly jetted out of my mind as fast as the wispy ribbons of smoke rising and dispersing out of the vents of my Weber grill. What did we have on hand? What could I use? What would I grill for dinner that incorporated that damn red onion?
Like a slot machine, ingredients started to stop in front of me, one by one, until everything was matching, and a smile came to my face. I swallowed in anticipation of grilling something mildly resembling a shrimp boil, but with that char and caramelization that would only come from a wood fired grill.
And so it was decided. Salt block shrimp with skewered red onions, squash, tomatoes, and new potatoes. Let’s get after it…
I wrangled up 20 shrimp, about a pound, and cut up a red onion and a single yellow squash. Nine small new potatoes and a handful of little yellow pear tomatoes rounded out the bowl of veggies. A quick marinade included olive oil, lemon juice, garlic, thyme, and shallots. Enough to thoroughly coat the shrimp and the veggies, both in their separate bowls. All good, all quick, all easy.
While the grill and salt block were heating up, I mixed a spicy cayenne pepper based rub for the shrimp. This was 2 Tbs each of Cayenne pepper, dry mustard, and roasted garlic powder. Add in about 2 1/2 Tbs smoked paprika, and 1 tsp each of thyme and oregano. That’s it for me, but I suppose if you’re not using a salt block, you could add in a little salt. If you’re not into spicy shrimp, well, just cut back the cayenne, because this one can be a “kicker”.
For the veggies I’m going to use a rub from a great little spice shop in Soulard Market, near downtown St Louis. It’s similar to the typical Old Bay seasoning, but with a twist. I’m not sure what the twist is, but it sure is good.
Now I like to lollygag around the grill as much or more than the next guy, but this dinner is not a lollygagging type of meal, so attention is needed, and when your belly is talking to you, you listen. So the onion, potato, tomato skewers were put on the grill about 20 minutes before I started grilling the shrimp, to get this meal all done at the same time. The shrimp sizzled as they were laid out on the salt block, and with that sizzle came the aroma of seafood and veggies, including that red onion that started it all.
After just a couple of minutes, the shrimp skewers were rotated and flipped, making sure to get an even sear on these beauties.
Now there’s not much to tell once the shrimp are finished. It’s only a matter of unloading these skewers, being extra careful to not sample too many of the pieces.
And then giving everything a good toss to mix it up before serving, and what a serving it turned out to be.
The shrimp were spicy and delicious, perfectly balanced out with the grilled corn, squash, tomatoes, and especially that sweet, caramelized, red onion, which started this whole thing, but were just one of the tasty ingredients that transformed this last minute meal into a keeper of a recipe. Set that platter out on the table and help yourself to a goodly portion of this shrimp grill,
Because Life Is Better Wood Fired