3 lbs. fresh shrimp, 25-30 count size
4 Tbsp. butter, melted
8 strips lean bacon
2 cups onions, diced
1 cup celery, diced
1 lb. Navy or Great Northern white beans
3 cloves fresh garlic, minced
1 tsp. ground thyme (or 1 sprig fresh thyme)
1 Tbsp. sweet basil (or 4 leaves fresh basil, chiffonade cut)
4 bay leaves
8 cups shrimp stock from heads and shells
2 tsp. Frank Davis Granular Seafood Boil
Salt and coarse ground black pepper to taste

First, rinse the shrimp well under cold running water.

Then peel, de-vein, and butterfly them and set them aside.

Next, take the shrimp heads and shells, place them on a pizza pan, drizzle on the butter, and bake them until they turn toasty (about 15 minutes) in a preheated 450 degree oven.

When done, transfer the heads and shells (plus whatever juices accumulate in the bottom of the pan) to a stock pot containing 10 cups of water.

Bring the mixture to a rapid boil, then reduce the heat to 'simmer' and cook gently for about an hour until you have approximately 8 cups of stock left.

Now strain out the heads and shells but save the liquid.

Meanwhile, take a 6-quart heavy aluminum or stainless steel Dutch oven and put it on the fire.

Then saute the bacon, onion, and celery together until the vegetables turn a toasty brown.

Next, toss in the beans, garlic, thyme, sweet basil, and bay leaves and mix everything thoroughly.

(Incidentally, the fire is on 'high' during this entire cooking process).

At this point, pour in the shrimp stock, sprinkle on the seafood boil, and stir the pot well, making sure the mixture is uniformly blended.

Then bring the beans to a full boil...but immediately reduce them to a simmer, cover the pot, and cook them until rich and creamy (which should take about three hours). Oh, yeah you should stir the pot occasionally to keep the beans from sticking to the bottom.

Finally, about 20 minutes before you're ready to eat, stir the butter-flied shrimp into the beans, season to taste with salt and pepper, cover the pot again, and simmer some more until the shrimp turn pink and tender. Caution: Do not overcook the shrimp or they will turn rubbery and mealy.

These beans are best when served piping hot over steamed rice, accompanied by a crisp tossed salad and a big pan of buttery homemade corn bread.


Chef's Notes:

This recipe also works well with lentils and lima beans, but the cooking time is much shorter. And instead of the salt and pepper, you can also season the pot with Frank Davis Sprinkling Spice.

Will brown rice work too? Absolutely!