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Hickory butter barbecued shrimp is available throughout Lent (and maybe longer) at Iron Grate BBQ Co.

Eat this now: Hickory butter barbecued shrimp at Iron Grate BBQ Co.

What's a meat-laden barbecue joint to do when Lent comes rolling around and every restaurant on the planet is serving up fish fry?

If you're Chef Aaron Patin, you dig deep and come up with a succulent seafood dish with a bit of smoke to augment your menu of artfully smoked brisket, pork and ribs.

Patin's hickory butter barbecued shrimp is a finger-lickin' Southern-inspired dish featuring a pound of peeled, head-on shrimp tossed in a smoky buttery sauce and served up alongside slices of Texas toast to soak up all the leftover sauce ($18).

"We toyed around with a number of ideas," notes Patin. "But in the end, we're a barbecue place and none of them really fit with the concept. The hickory butter shrimp is an homage to a dish at Maple Tree Inn in Blue Island, Illinois. It was their riff on shrimp and grits, which was cooked in garlicky, buttery lemony sauce with tomato. The shrimp were peel and eat, so they were messy. They had a lot of good dishes, but that was a staple to me."

The shrimp is available as a special on the Iron Grate menu every Friday, Saturday and Sunday beginning this week. Pair it with some of Patin's ultra-creamy grits or smoked tomato mac and cheese, and you've got yourself a pretty amazing feast.

Provided it takes off, Patin says the shrimp will become part of the regular menu.

Iron Grate BBQ Co. is open Friday, Saturday and Sunday from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.


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