Some like it hot; Texans like it hotter. That’s why Carl Walker, the chef at Brennan’s in Houston (3300 Smith), branded his barbecued shrimp with black pepper and poblano chiles. Double-daring the Southwest palate, he paired the shrimp with his spicy version of a down-home favorite. “I wanted to make cornbread pudding more interesting,” he says, “so I pumped it up with a jalapeño jack cheese and fresh-cut corn.” Then, to avoid setting off the fire alarm, he added a cooling salad of matchstick slices of crunchy jicama prepared in the Mexican tradition. Tossed in lime juice, salt, and pepper, it is as uncomplicated as it is refreshing.

Texas Creole Barbecued Shrimp

Barbecue Sauce Base
2 1/2 lemons, peeled and quartered
3 tablespoons coarse-ground black pepper
2 tablespoons seafood seasoning
1 cup Worcestershire sauce
1 cup water
6 cloves garlic

In saucepan combine all ingredients and reduce liquid by half. Strain liquid through fine-mesh strainer and reserve.

1/3 cup julienne red bell pepper
1/3 cup julienne poblano pepper
1/3 cup sliced yellow onion
3/4 teaspoon minced garlic
1/2 teaspoon vegetable oil
20 shrimp, 16 to 20 count, peeled and cleaned
3/4 cup barbecue sauce base (see recipe, above)
1/4 cup whipping cream

In skillet, sauté peppers, onion, and garlic in oil on medium heat for about 40 seconds. Add shrimp and sauté for 30 seconds. Stir in barbecue sauce base. Add cream and simmer 2 to 3 minutes, until shrimp are cooked.

To serve, arrange shrimp, cornbread pudding, and jicama salad on each plate. Serves 4.

Texas Cornbread Pudding

1/2 cup diced yellow onion
1 1/2 cups fresh cut corn, approximately 4 ears
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
4 eggs
2 cups whipping cream
6 cups crumbled cornbread (use your favorite recipe)
1 1/2 cups shredded jalapeño jack cheese
Salt and pepper to taste
1 jalapeño, sliced

Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Sauté onion and corn in oil on medium-high heat until onion is translucent. Combine eggs, cream, cornbread, 1 cup cheese, and onion-and-corn mixture in large bowl. Season with salt and pepper. Pour mixture in greased 8-inch-square pan. Sprinkle top with jalapeño slices and remaining cheese. Set pan in water bath and bake for 1 hour or until firm.

Jicama Salad

1 medium jicama, peeled and julienne cut
Juice of one large lime
Salt and pepper to taste

Toss jicama with lime juice and salt and pepper. Chill until ready to serve.