Do you know Shrimp de Jonghe? No? You can ask me, what is Shrimp de Jonghe? Simple, Swanky, Retro, Classic…
Shrimp + garlic + sherry + butter + aromatics in Gratin style. This is one of the gastronomic glories of Chicago, yet is virtually unknown everywhere else. The shrimp are blanketed in garlicky, sherry laced bread crumbs.
It was an invention of the Jonghe brothers somewhere in the late 19th century. Little did they know that this would carry their names into the 21st century. When you are eating Shrimp de Jonghe, you are eating Chicago history.
Everybody loves scampi right? Personally, you have me when you say plump shrimp with lots of butter and lots of garlic. But if that butter becomes a herbaceous compound with a good dose of sherry, and then topped with a wondrous crunchy breadcrumb topping… that gets me really drooling. But let me tell you a little about this strange sounding shrimp dish, a little history.
This seafood dish has a Belgian name, so how did it become a Chicago specialty? Well, this vintage classic was invented by a Belgian family named de Jonghe, who immigrated in the 1890s and opened de Jonghe’s Hotel and Restaurant. It was one of Chicago’s premier eateries till it closed in the 1930’s.
It’s believed that this shrimp casserole was either the brain child of the owner, Henri de Jonghe, or of their popular chef, Emil Zehr. I guess it really doesn’t matter now, as it has become one of the outstanding food legacies of the Windy City.
America has so many regional gems that don’t get the wide recognition that they deserve. This one looks and sounds swanky and fancy, but in reality it’s a very simple gratin casserole. It’s a perfect company conversation meal, which you can easily whip up for your next get together or soiree.
This can be an appetizer or a complete meal. Give regular scampi a miss and try our Shrimp de Jonghe… you are going to love me for this one.
What you need for Shrimp de Jonghe?
- Shrimp – Get big, plump jumbo shrimp. Yes they can be more expensive but they are so worth it for this rich dish.
- Butter – Plenty. Don’t skimp on it please.
- Breadcrumbs – For the most wondrous crust.
- Garlic – Lots.
- Sherry – This really makes it stand out from regular scampi.
- Fresh herbs – Parsley and oregano (you can add any other herbs on hand like thyme or rosemary if you like).
- Green onion or scallion
- Chili flakes
- Lemon rind
- Nutmeg – Just a pinch.
- Salt & pepper
How to make Shrimp de Jonghe
Like most shrimp dishes, this one is quick and easy. Start by making a delicious compound butter. Simply mix butter with fresh chopped fresh parsley and oregano, garlic, lemon rind, chili flakes, sherry, bread crumbs, nutmeg, salt and pepper. Give it a nice whirl so everything is mixed well and combined.
Now the shrimp is first cooked quickly in a skillet, before going in a casserole dish to bake like gratin. Start by melting butter in a skillet and add in shrimp along with chopped scallion, parsley, garlic and sherry. Season it with a little salt and pepper. Give it a quick sauté till they are longer gray in color and start curling up. Then quickly remove them from heat.
Next arrange the shrimp for baking. You can use one large casserole dish or small dishes like us to make individual portions. This just looks great and everybody loves it when the shrimp comes to the table sizzling in butter in their own small dish. We did 5 shrimp per dish, along with any of the remaining butter mixture from the pan.
Finish off by smearing them with giant dollops of the herbed compound butter we created earlier.
Pop them in the pre heated oven (375°F) for 20-25 minutes, or until the top is golden brown (it will depend on the size of your shrimp). While they’re cooking, check out my post of the 30+ best Shrimp Recipes.
Take them sizzling directly to the table. You are ready to entertain. Sprinkle some lemon and dig in with that fork…
What to serve Shrimp de Jonghe with
- All you want is a crusty, hot loaf of some bread to mop up all the wonderful sauce. That’s my first choice for these shrimp. My miracle no-knead bread is perfect for this one.
- Perhaps some kind of pasta, like angel hair, as with regular scampi.
- Some days try it with some great salad. My Israeli Couscous Salad or Spanish Pipirrana would both pair nicely.
- Or just like this… with nothing. Great appetizers, ahmm. Maybe pair it with your favorite wine… 🙂
Chances are you will end up with none. But just in case you make a giant batch of Jonghe, these shrimp can be refrigerated in an airtight container for a couple of days. I don’t recommend freezing, as the quality will degrade.
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Next time you eye some jumbo shrimp, go the Jonghe brother’s way. A casserole of plump shrimp topped with wonderful breadcrumbs sopped with butter, sherry and garlic. It’s yum. It’s easy. And you are going to wow your near and dear ones when these shrimp sizzle, crackle and pop in their mouth!!
Shrimp de Jonghe, on my Gypsy Plate… enjoy!
Looking for more great shrimp recipes? Try my…
Blackened Shrimp and Grits
Cajun Shrimp Scampi
Spanish Garlic Shrimp (Gambas al Ajillo)
Chili Lime Shrimp Tacos
Pesto Shrimp and Grits
Shrimp de Jonghe (Butter Garlic Shrimp Casserole)
Shrimp de Johnge... This is a classic Chicago restaurant appetizer. Sizzling jumbo shrimp laced in butter, garlic and sherry, adorned with a crispy bread crumb topping.
- 1 to 1.5 lbs shrimp (16-20 jumbo shrimp)
- 1 stick + 2 Tbsp butter, divided
- 1/2 cup breadcrumbs or panko
- 1/2 cup sherry, divided
- 2 scallion, chopped
- 1/4 cup + 1 Tbsp parsley, chopped and divided
- 1 Tbsp oregano, chopped
- 2 Tbsp garlic, divided
- 1/4 tsp chili flakes
- 1 Tbsp lemon rind
- Pinch of nutmeg
- Salt & pepper to taste
- In a bowl, mix in 1 stick of room temperature butter with bread crumbs, lemon rind, 1/4 cup parsley, oregano, 1.5 Tbsp chopped garlic, chili flakes, 1/4 cup sherry, nutmeg, salt and pepper. Whisk well to combine everything into a compound.
- Pre heat oven to 375°F.
- Heat 2 Tbsp butter on medium high heat in a skillet. Add in shrimp along with scallion, 1 tbsp parsley, 1/2 Tbsp garlic, 1/4 cup sherry, salt and pepper.
- Mix well and cook till shrimp are no longer grey in color and about to curl up.
- Remove shrimp to a casserole dish along with the rest of sauce and ingredients. If you are using individual small casserole dishes, divide shrimp accordingly and make single portions.
- Top each shrimp with a generous dollop of the above compound butter mixture.
- Bake the shrimp casserole for 20-25 minutes, till the top becomes golden brown. The time may vary depending upon the size of the shrimp.
- Serve immediately with a splash of lemon along with a side of crusty bread, noodles or salad.
- You can add a splash of lemon juice when sautéing the shrimp. It adds a citrusy flavor to the dish.
- Use any other herbs on hand. Thyme, tarragon, sage and chives are good options.
Nutrition InformationYield 4 Serving Size 1
Amount Per Serving Calories 497Total Fat 32gSaturated Fat 19gTrans Fat 1gUnsaturated Fat 10gCholesterol 316mgSodium 1709mgCarbohydrates 21gFiber 2gSugar 2gProtein 30g
Nutrition information calculated by Nutritionix.
Be sure to check out my roundup of the 30+ BEST Shrimp Recipes!
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