Add a little sweet to your heat, or try some of our favorite recipes for maple season.
Here in Massachusetts, temperatures recently hit the 70° mark, which means maple sap is flowing freely and smoke is billowing from the chimneys of every sugar shack. For any long-time New England resident, you can be sure that sweetness in the air evokes Proustian memories of childhood pancake breakfasts and maple frappes (not the same thing as milkshakes). Maple has long been a morning meal staple, but when the craving hits hard as it does this time of year, it’s nice to be reminded that maple plays nicely with any course, sweet and savory, like this sausage and shrimp dish that gets its maple hit from the sauce.
Of course, if you’re looking for other options, may we suggest a few favorites?
- Maple-Bacon Strata, for those lazy, decadent brunches
- Sugar on Snow, and if you’re short on snow, substitute shaved ice or vanilla ice cream. Don’t forget the pickles!
- Dreamy Almond Bars
- Dark and Sticky Gingerbread with Maple Whipped Cream
- Maple Syrup Liqueur, just right for a hot toddy or Old Fashioned
Happy Maple Days!
Hot and Spicy Shrimp Kabobs
The heat can be regulated here by gauging the amount and type of chile peppers you use; for most folks, I find the 2 tablespoons of jalapeños sufficient. Of course, if you have a stash of fresh hot peppers that you fancy, use them instead. Good beer-drinking grub, this is. But if you’re limiting your meat consumption, skewer up 2 pounds of shrimp and skip the sausage.
Yield: 4 servings
- 1¼ cups North Country Basting Sauce (recipe follows)
- Juice of ½ medium lemon (about 1½ tablespoons)
- 2 tablespoons minced onion
- 2 tablespoons minced jalapeño
- 1 pound spicy, fully cooked sausage
- 1 pound large shrimp in the shell
- Blend the basting sauce, lemon juice, onion, and jalapeño in a large bowl.
- Cut the sausage into ½-inch slices and add to the marinade along with the shrimp. Stir to coat well. Cover and set aside for 1 hour; it may be refrigerated for several hours.
- Preheat the grill to medium-high (or preheat the broiler). Thread four or five long skewers alternately with the shrimp and sausage. Either grill or broil, far enough from the heat to prevent charring, for about 10 minutes total or until the shrimp are pink. Turn occasionally during cooking and brush with more sauce. And be sure to tell your guests that the shrimp are in the shell.
North Country Basting Sauce
Though not faithful to any particular school of thought on barbecue sauce, I can tell you that this barbecue sauce is versatile, spicy, and no slouch in the flavor department. It’s tops on barbecued or broiled chicken.
Yield: About 3 cups
- 1 cup ketchup
- ⅔ cup apple cider vinegar
- ½ cup vegetable oil
- ½ cup maple syrup
- 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
- 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
- ½ teaspoon chili powder
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
- Bring the ketchup, vinegar, oil, maple syrup, Worcestershire, mustard, chili powder, salt, and cayenne to a boil in a small saucepan over medium heat, stirring occasionally. Decrease the heat and cook gently for 10 minutes, stirring from time to time.
- Let cool, then store in a covered jar in the refrigerator, where it will keep for at least 4 weeks.