As a food writer and blogger, a few years back, I received an email inviting me to create a recipe using and/or pairing with one of New Belgium Brewery’s beers.  The hardest part to this whole assignment was choosing which of their beers to use to create my dish. Let’s face it, New Belgium Brewery has a number of really great beers from which to choose from. I was, originally all set to use their “1554,” one of my favorite beers, but on the day that I was planning out my recipe I ended up heading out to do some Ramp picking. For those reader’s who have been following me since last year, you’ll know that I am a huge ramp fan. For those of you unfamiliar with ramps, they are a wild “onion” that grows in early spring and has a taste somewhere between a leek, a scallion and garlic. They are one of the few foods I feel comfortable foraging for as they are pretty easy to identify and I don’t have to worry about poisoning someone with them.

But I digress; because of my ramp picking foray, my whole recipe concept changed and I eventually decided on the Ranger IPA to highlight. American IPAs (India Pale Ales) can be difficult beers to cook with. They are great beers for pairing with food, especially spicy foods, but in cooking with them one has be careful of the bitterness, from the hops, that can overwhelm a dish. Luckily Ranger IPA has a nice malty backbone to help balance out the bitterness of the beer.

While I hesitate to call this a “Moroccan” dish, its flavors where definitely influenced by the foods of Morocco and Northern Africa. The heat and spice of the dish holds up well to the high bitterness, while the shrimp does well with the citrus notes of the beer. The Ranger IPA is used as the base for the marinade and makes the perfect accompaniment to the finished dish.

Spicy Shrimp with Red Pepper Sauce
serves 4

1 cup New Belgium Ranger IPA
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 lemon, zested
1 tsp. garlic chile paste (I used sambal)

Red Pepper Sauce
2 large red bell peppers
1 Tbs. whole coriander seed
1 Tbs. whole cumin seed
1/2 tsp. turmeric
1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp. ground cayenne pepper
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 clove garlic, peeled

32 each large shrimp
1/2 pound ramps (can substitute green onions)
2 lemons
1/2 cup chopped parsley
Couscous (your favorite brand)

Make the marinade by combining the beer, olive oil, lemon zest and garlic chile paste. Peel and devein the shrimp, leaving the tails intact. Pour marinade over the shrimp and allow to marinate for 2-4 hours.

Meanwhile, if you don’t have metal skewers, place 8 8″ bamboo skewers in water to soak. Roast the red peppers and remove skin and seeds. Place in a blender along with turmeric, cinnamon, olive oil, cayenne pepper and garlic. Quickly toast the coriander and cumin seed in a hot, dry saute pan over medium high heat. Add too the rest of the ingredients and blend until smooth.

Season with salt and chill until ready to use. Wash the ramps, remove the root ends and most of the leaves, which tend to burn on the grill. Cut the lemons in half. Once the shrimp have marinated, heat a grill to high. While the grill is heating skewer the shrimp, placing 4 shrimp on each skewer. Prepare the couscous per the package instructions. Drizzle the ramps with olive oil and season with salt and freshly cracked black pepper. Grill until softened and just slightly charred. While the ramps are grilling, brush the cut sides of the lemon with olive oil and grill just until the cut side is lightly browned. Finally season the shrimp with salt and pepper and grill until done (approximately 3-4 minutes on each side depending on how hot your grill is and how big the shrimp are).

Stir in about 1/3 cup of chopped parsley into the couscous and divide among 4 plates. Arrange shrimp around couscous and top with grilled ramps. Drizzle the red pepper sauce over everything and garnish with the remaining parsley.