Potted shrimps in years gone by were a real delicacy, and the best ones came from Morecambe Bay in Lancashire. Initially, they were potted to preserve them, and according to Jane Grigson in her book English Food, the best butter to use was Dutch. I agree with her; I think Dutch Lurpak is brilliant, but it is up to you. This classic dish is well worth the effort, but be sure to add plenty of salt, pepper and lemon juice. It's a great summer starter or early evening supper dish with a glass of chilled white Pinot Grigio or Sauvignon Blanc
- 100 g unsalted butter
- 4 shallots, peeled and finely chopped
- 2 garlic cloves, crushed
- ½ tsp freshly grated nutmeg
- ½ tsp freshly grated mace
- small pinch cayenne pepper
- 300 g prawns
- 200 g unsalted butter
- touch of olive oil
- salt and freshly ground black pepper
- zest and juice of a lemon
- Cook the shallots, garlic and spices together until soft.
- Peel the prawns carefully, then cut them into three.
- Melt the 200 grams of butter very slowly so you end up with curds and whey, then leave to settle.
- Heat the olive oil in a wok, season the prawns well with plenty of salt and pepper and cook in the hot oil until they turn a lovely shade of pink. Cook through but do not overcook, or the delicate flesh will toughen.
- Tip the contents of the wok into a large bowl along with the shallot mixture, lemon juice and zest and stir well.
- Re season with salt and pepper. I would slightly overseason at this point because you will add a fair amount of unsalted butter.
- Pour the melted butter into the bowl with the shallot mixture and prawns and stir well, trying to keep as much of the buttermilk as possible in the pan. Tip the buttery mixture into a serving bowl and chill well for a minimum of 4 hours.
- I think it is nice to serve a large potted in the middle of the table and let people help themselves. The best way to serve the prawns is very slightly warm, so you can spread the butter almost, pop the bowl in the microwave on defrost and soften, or leave at room temperature for about 1 hour. Serve with malted brown bread toast or, if you are feeling adventurous, melba toast.
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