The Homicidal Homemaker shows you how to make this impressive way to present your shrimp cocktail, with a ghoulish surprise in the middle – mini bay shrimp, that makes this dish look strikingly close to a maggot-infested brain once your guests have starting digging in and picking this brain apart!
When I saw Martha Stewart’s recipe for her “Bloody Brain”, I knew I had to make it. I knew that it would be impressive, disgusting-looking and delicious-tasting.
But as The Homicidal Homemaker, I had to up the gross-out factor just a notch. With the addition of food-coloring to the gelatin mixture, and swapping out a portion of the large shrimp with mini bay shrimp, this dish is not for the faint of heart, or weakest of stomachs. Seeing the reactions of my taste-testers, I knew I had a keeper.
Don’t be fooled by the gelatin mixture – you’re not eating shrimp-infested JELL-O here! There’s just enough to hold the brain together.
WARNING: as your guests eat this dish, it WILL seem to come to life on it’s own, bursting and losing shape, and in turn, the bay shrimp ‘maggots’ will seem to crawl out of it. AWESOME!!!!
What You Need:
Adapted from Martha Stewart’s “Bloody Brain”
- 2 pounds large shrimp (I bought mine pre-cooked/deveined from the deli)
- 1 pound bay shrimp (again, bought from the deli)
- 1 envelope of powdered gelatin (approx. 1 Tbsp)
- 1 teaspoon of sea salt
- 1/2 C. of freshly-squeezed lemon juice
- 3/4 teaspoon of Old Bay Seasoning
- red food coloring (I used Americolor)
- Prepared cocktail sauce, for dipping
- Additional lemon wedges
Step One: Spray your mold with a light coating of non-stick cooking spray. This will assist you in unmolding your brain. If your brain mold doesn’t sit perfectly upright, place it into a bowl to keep it steady.
Begin arranging your large shrimp in the mold, with the tails facing upwards in vertical rows. Build them up along the sides of the mold. Tuck the mini bay shrimp into any empty areas you see, then repeat with the large shrimp, filling in the entire center of the brain mold with the mini bay shrimp. You’ll want to make sure you at least have one layer of the large shrimp in the mold before adding the mini bay shrimp in there. The mini bay shrimp are the ‘maggoty’ surprise that awaits inside!
Step Two: Fill a small saucepan with 1 2/3 cups cold water, and sprinkle the powdered gelatin over water and allow to ‘bloom’ for 5 minutes (this softens the gelatin, making it easier to dissolve when you add the hot liquid).
After your gelatin has bloomed, move the saucepan to the stove, cook gelatin mixture over medium-low heat while stirring constantly, until the gelatin has fully dissolved. Whisk in your lemon juice, salt, Old Bay seasoning until well combined. Add food coloring, as desired. I used Americolor, so it didn’t take much.
Step Three: Using a spoon, SLOWLY pour the colored gelatin mixture over the shrimp in the mold. TAKE YOUR TIME – you may or may not be able to fit all of it into the mold, depending on how tightly you packed the shrimp. I very, very carefully rotated the mold to ensure the gelatin mixture reached all parts of the mold.
Cover it with plastic wrap, and then gently press down on the surface. Find a plate that fits in the mold and, use a few soup cans to weigh it down (this will put pressure on the shrimp, and keep things nice and firm!). Refrigerate until firm, around 5-6 hours.
Step Four: When your Maggot-Infested Brain is all firm and ready to go, place your serving platter on top of the brain mold; invert, and gently shake to remove the brain onto your platter. Serve with cocktail sauce and additional lemon wedges. Oh, and don’t forget to keep your eyes peeled for when the maggots make this brain ‘come alive’.