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Here, Sarah Rutledge’s 1847 Baked Shrimps and Tomatoes recipe is translated for use in a modern kitchen. You may substitute canned stewed tomatoes, although the completed dish won’t be nearly as flavorful. If you make the substitution, omit the salt. In fact, local brown shrimp are brinier than other varieties, so if you’re using them, be judicious with adding salt altogether.
- 8 large, ripe tomatoes (about 3 lbs.)
- 1 small onion, minced
- About 6 Tbs. unsalted butter
- About 2 cups dry unsalted cracker crumbs (such as oyster crackers, crushed)
- 1½ lbs. headed medium shrimp (preferably local brown shrimp), peeled and cooked
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- Ground mace or freshly grated nutmeg
Blanch and peel the tomatoes, then quarter, seed, and chop them, reserving their juices.
Put the tomatoes, reserved juices, and onion in a saucepan and heat over medium high. As soon as the mixture begins to boil, reduce the heat to a bare simmer and cook until the onions begin to soften, about five minutes. Turn off the heat.
Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat oven to 375°F. Choose a deep two-quart casserole dish that will hold all the ingredients in three layers and grease it well with butter. Put about a half cup of crumbs in the bottom of the dish, followed by a third of the shrimp and then a third of the tomatoes. Dot with butter and season well with a healthy pinch of salt, pepper, and/or mace or nutmeg. Repeat two more layers with remaining crumbs, shrimp, tomatoes, and seasonings, reserving enough crumbs to cover the top.
Dot with butter and bake until nicely browned, about 20 to 30 minutes.