Published January 1, 2013. From Cook's Illustrated.
Peeling shrimp before roasting them keeps things neat and tidy at the table—but are you throwing away the best part?
Most recipes produce pale, insipid shrimp that look as though they’ve been baked, not roasted.
We wanted deep, flavorful shrimp using a technique that was simple enough for an easy weeknight meal.
To ensure that the shrimp would brown before cooking through, we used the largest shrimp we could find. Leaving their shells on as we roasted them provided a barrier between the meat and the heat, which prevented the surface of the meat from shriveling. Further research revealed that the shells are also loaded with sugars, proteins, and other flavor-boosting compounds that amplified the rich seafood flavor. To make deveining and (later) peeling the shrimp easier, we used a pair of kitchen shears to split their shells from end to end without removing them from the flesh. We then butterflied the exposed flesh, cutting through the meat just short of severing it into two pieces.
We broiled the shrimp on a wire rack placed inside a baking sheet, which allowed air to circulate below the shrimp as well as above. To combat uneven broilers, we created a buffer against the heat by brining the shrimp. The extra moisture that got pulled into the lean flesh with the salt helped the meat stay nice and plump—not to mention seasoned well throughout.list of recipes