That perfect balance of smoky and sweet is divine, but a little tricky to achieve.

First, be careful to add a smoky flavor that is mild and understated. Then, let the sweet aspect enhance the way the smoke warms the flavor of your dish. Last, mix in a little vinegar to make it all come together beautifully.

After watching my dear friend, chef Anne Milneck, use a sweet vinaigrette in a demonstration at her Red Stick Spice Co. shop in Baton Rouge, I was inspired to use a sauce or vinaigrette with just a bit of vinegar to help my smoky, sweet and earthy flavors pop in the glazed shrimp I had planned for company.

When you’re serving a dish with a lot of layers, like the Sweet and Smoky Shrimp we include here, consider balancing it with a mild base like rice, pasta or a rich risotto. Creamy Risotto has a mild flavor that balances and stretches your dish just as rice does, but it adds richer texture that elevates a simple dish into an elegant one.

I have made risotto before, but it was never anything special. One day, I asked a chef friend about his secret to creamy risotto. His answer? Lots of butter and a little cream. Well, you don’t have to tell me butter and cream twice. I also added a little goat cheese at the finish, making the risotto extra decadent.

We got excellent reviews on the risotto; it quite possibly stole the show from the shrimp. I hope you enjoy it.