Saturday, January 21, 2012

Shrimp De Jonghe - A Chicago Classic

This Chicago specialty is a casserole of shrimp blanketed in toasted bread crumbs in a garlic infused white wine (or sherry) and butter sauce. It can be served as an appetizer or a main course and comes with an interesting pedigree that will fascinate your dinner guests as well as delight their pallets.



According to the Encyclopedia of Chicago, the dish originated in the late 19th or early 20th century at the De Jonghe Hotel and Restaurant.  The De Jonghe brothers and their two sisters had emigrated from their native Belgium to Chicago only a year before the 1892 World`s Columbian Exposition, their sights set on making a living in the New World.  The recipe is usually attributed to the owners, brothers Henri, Pierre and Charles DeJonghe, however there has been speculation that the dish was actually created by their chef, Emil Zehr.

De Jonghe Hotel Dining Room circa 1910
While the hotel and dining room are long gone, the dish lives on in at least a hundred restaurants throughout the Chicago area, not to mention numerous other restaurants around the country.  As such, there are many versions of the recipe and I  share mine with you below.  It is simple to make and always pleases.  For a main course I usually serve with some type of fried rice and a vegatable.  Have a good bread handy as people often want to dip up the sauce.

Shrimp De Jonghe
[Main course for two adults, or appetizer for four]

Ingredients
12 large shrimp/prawns
1/2 lemon
2-3 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
1/2 cup white wine or sherry
salt and pepper to taste
8 tablespoons butter
2/3 cup of bread crumbs
1/3 cup grated parmesan cheese
1 tablespoon dried chopped parsley

Preheat Oven to 400F degrees with rack arranged to high position (to aid in browning).

Clean, peel and devein the shrimp, removing their tales.  Arrange shrimp in an oven proof shallow cooking dish.  If using for appetizer arrange in individual ramikins.  Sprinkle with lemon juice and chopped garlic.  Pour over the wine or sherry and dot with half (4 Tbls) of the butter.  Sprinkle with salt and pepper.

Melt the remaining half (4 Tbls) of the butter and combine with breadcrumbs and parmesan cheese.  Add the dried parsley and stir to combine. 

Sprinkle bread crumb mixture over prepared shrimp.  Bake on top rack of oven for 15 minutes or until shrimp is cooked through and bread crumbs begin to brown.

5 comments:

  1. David, I so remember this from my childhood (grew up in a burb of Chicago). I never knew it was from there.!! My mother would make it from time to time and my memory of it is butter butter and more butter and that it was so good (even if I now know she cooked the shrimp to DEATH). Thanks for the memory! I have the recipe in my first little handwritten cookbook that I started in college –– I must make this again!

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  2. This recipe was invented by my grand-grand father, a Belgian immigrant (my grand-mother was a De Jonghe, she passed away in Belgium in 2005 at the age of 94). In the twenties, they came back to Belgium because the hotel went bust during the prohibition. I go to Chicago in early May. So, if anybody let me know to taste this family legacy, I will go. Bruno Colmant (Bcolmant@hotmail.com)

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    Replies
    1. Bruno, thanks so much for the comment. Knowing it was a family recipe makes it so much more special. The local TV station has a restaurant review show and asked where you get the best of this dish. The responses are listed on the website: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/781047

      Enjoy your trip to our lovely city!
      Julian

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    2. I should have probably also directed you to Chicago's own Eli's Cheesecake, which is in the heart of downtown Chicago and also a classic old restaurant. http://www.elicheesecake.com/eps.aspx

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  3. This recipe was invented by my grand-grand father, a Belgian immigrant (my grand-mother was a De Jonghe, she passed away in Belgium in 2005 at the age of 94). In the twenties, they came back to Belgium because the hotel went bust during the prohibition. I go to Chicago in early May. So, if anybody let me know to taste this family legacy, I will go. Bruno Colmant (Bcolmant@hotmail.com)

    ReplyDelete