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August 23, 2009

Ritz crackers, a Pantry Special (Recipe: baked stuffed shrimp)

Baked stuffed shrimp, a New England classic.

In America, it's hard to imagine a place where you can't find Ritz crackers in every supermarket and corner store, yet I seldom keep them in my pantry. Since 1935, a year after they were test-marketed in Baltimore and Philadelphia, the round, scallop-edged crackers, salted on the top side and flaky on the inside, have been sold nationwide. Topped with peanut butter, they're a favorite afterschool snack for kids, but when crushed or ground, Ritz crackers work much like Cheddar cheese-y, buttery bread crumbs, in stuffings or as a coating.

Ritz crackers

Is this Pantry Special new to you?

Where to buy online:
Amazon.com (4 12-oz packs, $13.47)

How to use Ritz crackers:
Ritz cracker ice cream
Mock apple pie
Broccoli casserole
Poppy seed chicken and asparagus
Strawberry chocolate nut pie
Robert Duvall's mother's crab cakes

Baked stuffed shrimp, a New England tradition.

Baked stuffed shrimp

For my friends Bob and Charlotte, who taught me this recipe, baked stuffed shrimp is a New Year's Eve tradition. For me, it's a memory of summers in New Hampshire and the Woodbine Cottage, the fanciest restaurant within hailing distance of my summer camp, the place you could go with your parents where they would feel right at home (though you thought everyone there was old). The food at the Woodbine was classic, and lobster Newburg and baked stuff shrimp were the specialties. Shrimp are sold by the number per pound; U-12s are 12 to the pound. Serves 4, can be doubled and more.

Ingredients

1 stalk celery, diced
1-2 large cloves of garlic, minced
1 Tbsp butter
60 Ritz crackers
1 stick (8 Tbsp) butter, melted (easiest in a microwave for 45 seconds)
Juice of 1 lemon
1 Tbsp chopped flat-leaf parsley
2-3 Tbsp white wine
Lots of black pepper, to taste
20 jumbo shrimp (U-12 size)
Paprika, for garnish

Directions

Preheat the oven to 375°F.

In a small frying pan, heat 1 Tbsp of butter. Sauté the celery and garlic for 3-4 minutes on low heat, until softened but not browned. Add to a large mixing bowl.

Crush the crackers with your hands so the crumbs are quite coarse, and add to the bowl with the celery. Stir in the melted butter, lemon juice, parsley, white wine and pepper. The mixture should be fairly dry but should just hold together. Taste, and add, as needed, more lemon juice, more pepper, or more wine. The crackers are salty, so you won't need salt.

To prepare the shrimp: remove the shell, leaving the tail section on. Turn the shrimp with the inside of the curve facing up. Butterfly the shrimp by running a sharp paring knife along the length of the inside, cutting down but not all the way through. You should be able to flatten the shrimp, except for the tail section, and scrape out any black vein.

Set one shrimp on a plate, cut side facing up (the tail should be standing up, too). Mound one tablespoon of cracker filling on the shrimp, and smooth into a large mound. Place the shrimp on a baking sheet lined with a Silpat (silicone liner) or sprayed with nonstick spray. Repeat until all of the shrimp are stuffed. Sprinkle each shrimp with a tiny bit of paprika.

Bake at 375°F for 20 minutes or until the shrimp are cooked and the stuffing is browned on top.


More New England favorite recipes in The Perfect Pantry:

Traditional New England crabcakes
Quick and easy white clam chowder
Rhode Island clear clam chowder

Other recipes that use these pantry ingredients:
Baked cod with Ritz cracker topping, from Simply Recipes
Candy dipped peanut butter Ritz sandwiches, from Kevin and Amanda
Mock apple pie, from Copykat Recipes
Shrimp and bacon stuffed mushrooms, from Our Life in Food
Easy shrimp bites, from Kitchen Parade

Classic New England baked stuffed shrimp.

Comments

I make something very similar. I love Ritz crackers for stuffing in seafood. I am sure the foodies of the world would turn their nose up, but I love how buttery it is.

Those shrimp look really good! Ritz crackers are a worldwide favourite I think. We have the 'localised' version here in Malaysia, but you can still get the original Ritz too!

Very interesting recipe, Lydia! I love the crackers!

Lydia, these look delicious! I forget about Ritz crackers. They are also great to soak up the juices of sliced sweetened strawberries. Let rest a minute, so the crackers are a soft crisp, top with some cream. YUM.

I love the idea of using ritz crackers as a bread crumb-type topping... I used to eat ritz all the time as a kid, but they never seemed to make it to my adult pantry.

Curious... do you really mean 60 crackers? That seems like it would be an awful lot. Perhaps an awful lot of goodness!

Ritz Crackers!! Is there any other way to stuff shrimp?? Hint: to keep shrimp and stuffing together, place a cupcake liner in a cupcake pan and place shrimp inside, fill and bake.

Ritz crackers were a luxury item when I was growing up. Since we had ten kids, my mom never bought that kind of snack (we kids would eat them up within minutes!) Love the idea of using them as a stuffing for shrimp; sounds delicious. And love the photo of the "periscope shrimp" with their tails in the air.

Why there are never Ritz crackers in my pantry: I eat them up immediately.

Signed ... not really a foodie

Those shrimp look sooooo good! My mouth is watering! I adore shrimp, especially our big, beautiful local pinks.

I discovered the versatility of Ritz Crackers by accident one night when I needed bread crumbs and had run out. I saw the cracker box and thought I'd try them. They worked great, and now I use them in cooking often.

I don't love Ritz crackers on their own but I agree, they are great in certain recipes. Such a great shrimp recipe and such nice memories!

Peabody, no one here would turn up their nose at Ritz cracker stuffing! Nice to know that you make the same thing in the Northwest as we do in the Northeast.

Dharm, I'm not surprised. I actually found Pringles Potato Chips (another American invention) when I was in Malaysia, too!

Anh, Mae: I love these crackers, too, which is why, like Mae, I don't keep them in the house. Far too tempting....

Melynda, strawberries and Ritz crackers? That's new to me. Will have to try it.

Julia, yes, 60 crackers, three per jumbo shrimp. The filling is really mounded up.

Pauline, you're a genius! I'm going to try the cupcake pan method next time.

Kalyn, I really had a bit of fun with the photos, and managed to take a whole series of these shrimp "on the march"!

Susan, I do think Ritz crackers are overlooked as an ingredient. And so many of our best recipes result from "accidents", or last-minute substitutions. The more we cook, the better our instincts for what might work.

Maris, you are lucky not to be tempted by the Ritz. For me, they're better off in my memory than in my pantry, where I'm sure to eat them right from the box.

Ritz are also great in an eggplant casserole.

True confession - when I want to make a special dinner for me, this is it!

I saw this post 20 minutes too late! I just sat down and read this post after boiling my jumbo shrimp and putting them on ice. I would have loved to try this recipe tonight--the shrimp look delicious. Next week for sure. Thanks for the recipe.

I don't keep Ritz crackers, because if I did, I would eat them. All of them. Probably in one sitting.

Creative stuff! A fantastic new way to enjoy shrimp

They are a staple in our house, too. When in a pinch for lunch, we have them with peanut butter & jelly.

Did you ever see the Honey Butter Ritz? One of those with Marshmallow Creme...I know, terrible, but OH SO YUMMY!!!

Janet, I'd love to have your recipe for that.

Mary, I won't tell a soul, but I know what you mean. Ritz crackers remind me of childhood.

Kathy, cooked shrimp on ice sound pretty delicious on this hot and sticky Rhode Island day.

Pam, if I were with you, I would fight you for them. The salty cheese flavor is completely addictive, and I am powerless to resist.

Sean, this dish is a real New England classic. Hope you enjoy it.

Bridget, Ritz and PB was a favorite snack among my friends when I was young. I never loved PB, though. And honey butter Ritz -- how good does that sound?!

I swear I am not making this up...
yesterday afternoon I was on the phone with a friend discussing her baked stuffed shrimp recipe and that lead to a discussion on the virtues of Ritz crackers (she uses them in her recipe) and then when I got off the phone and sat at the computer to check email...BAM! there was the latest blog entry on the this very topic!
Spooky!! :-)

Great use for Ritz crackers Lydia! I like this pantry specials bit.

How creative! Cool!

Ritz crackers is the food of the gods. I would love to try these shrimp. There's just something so salty and buttery about those crackers, and I'm glad you gave us something high end, and not the typical mock apple pie!

This recipe is calling my name! Serious yum factor here (and such mouthwatering photos too). I usually try to keep at least one type of cracker on hand at all times, whether it be saltines, Club crackers or the stone wheat variety. I haven't had Ritz for a while though (no idea why)...but I'll be buying them soon and trying this recipe.

I don't really care for ritz crackers but that photo is stunning.

Great recipe, who doesn't love Ritz crackers, I am glad to see you posted a recipe with them, so many cooks don't use them anymore. I think there an essential pantry item, at least for snaking with PB or cheese.

These look outstanding. My mouth is watering just looking at them.

My family has used ritz crackers for years in our baked seafood. We usually put about 2 tbls of Old Bay seasoning in it as well. One thing that is not covered is when your baking it, do you cover it with foil? I do for the first 15 minutes then open to brown the stuffing. I am always worried about drying the stuffing.

Scott, we did not cover the shrimp. There's plenty of moisture in the filling, and it cooks through in the same time (20 minutes) that it takes to cook the shrimp.

I have used almost the same recipe for baked stuffed shrimp for years, except I also add white crabmeat to the ingredients. I have been told that they are better than most restuarants serve. They are yummy!

I tried the recipe using the fat free ritz crackers and can't belive its not butter and it was just great!


!

Such a fun recipe!

'Everything sits better when it sits on a Ritz'
Loved them, haven't had one in years!

I made these last night and they were GREAT -- thanks for the recipe!

Your recipe is presented in a very attractive format. The photos you took are stunning !

Just wanted to thank you for sharing this amazing stuffed shrimp recipe. We featured it on our Ritz Cracker Recipe page.

Thanks again!

I also add Crab meat ... yum yum

This is going to be my Christmas Eve dinner tonight here in Rhode Island! Very excited. I have a feeling after toinght your site will be my go-to!

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About The Perfect Pantry®

  • My name is Lydia Walshin. From my log house kitchen in rural northwest Rhode Island, I share recipes that use what we keep in our pantries, the usual and not-so-usual ingredients that spice up our lives.

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