Note: This dish is prepared only 2 servings at a time because increasing the number of shrimp beyond 12 would require increasing the dish's amount of sauce. Reducing the larger amount of sauce would require more cooking time, resulting in over-cooked shrimp.
*If colossal shrimp are not available, use the largest you can find.
**To coarse-grind the peppercorns, use a blender or peppermill. The grind is important to the taste of the finished dish.
Place the unpeeled shrimp, Worcestershire sauce, black pepper, Creole seasoning, garlic, and 1 tablespoon beer (or water) in a heavy 10-inch, stainless-steel sauté pan. Squeeze the juice from the lemon half over the shrimp and add the rind and pulp to the pan. Over high heat, cook the shrimp while gently stirring and occasionally turning the shrimp. After about 2 minutes of cooking, the shrimp should start turning pink on both sides, indicating they are nearly half cooked. If the shrimp are the colossal size, add additional 2 tablespoons beer (or water) to the pan; otherwise, don't add water.
Reduce the heat to medium-high and continue cooking as you gradually add the cold pieces of butter to the pan. While turning the shrimp occasionally, swirl the butter pieces until they are incorporated into the pan juices, the sauce turns light brown and creamy as it simmers, and the shrimp are just cooked through. This will take about 2 minutes total if the shrimp are extra-large, and about 3 minutes total if they're colossal. Do not overcook the shrimp.
Serving suggestion: Pour the shrimp and sauce into a heated pasta bowl with the lemon-half turned cut-side down, in the center. Serve the shrimp and sauce immediately, alongside slices of warm, crusty French bread for sopping up the sauce.
Yields: 1 scant cup
Thoroughly combine all the ingredients in a small mixing bowl. Place the mixture in an airtight container and store in a cool, dark place for up to 3 months.
Recipe provided by Ralph Brennan Restaurant Group.
Richard Wrangham, a professor at Harvard University and author of Catching Fire, studies the role of cooking in human evolution. "Once you start thinking about the importance of cooking -- its supply of energy, its strange distribution compared to natural foods -- it's bound to have affected our evolution hugely, our behavior, our society, our cognition, all sorts of features about us," he says.