Monday, April 11, 2005

Quick Scampi

When I haven't the time or inclination to cook a complicated dinner, I opt for seafood. Seafood is delish and fast and good for you. I usually have shrimp in the freezer and find it easier to peel them when they are still a little frozen. After peeling, rinse them and pat dry with some paper towels.

Shrimp Scampi takes about five minutes to cook and DH likes it over pasta so I start the pasta water to boil before I peel. It takes the water longer to boil that it does to make every other part of this dinner combined. I like to wear a shrimp pin when I cook scampi.

So you've started a large pot of hot water to boil for your pasta. (don't add the salt yet or it will take longer to bring to a boil.) Peel the shrimp, leaving on the fan tail. The tail will be the handle and it's pretty so leave them attached and tear off the shells up to the last break in the shell before the tail.

Assemble near the stove, some sweet cream butter, (I never use salted butter), about 3 large cloves of garlic (not whole heads, just the individual cloves), some good olive oil, some lemon juice, (I usually use "Real Lemon" in a bottle since I go through a ton of lemon juice every week.), some fresh parsley (please use fresh) and some salt and the pepper grinder. Always put all your ingredients out before you start cooking. Don't forget the pasta. I usually plan a quarter of a pound of pasta per person.

Either make a salad now or have someone make it for you. I find that if you pour a guest or your spouse a glass of wine, they are pretty agreeable if you ask them to assist you with preps. At this point, I smash and chop the fresh garlic cloves and coarsely chop the parsley. Cooking is very easy if you have all ingredients at the ready.

As soon as the water starts to boil, add a goodly amount of salt and cover, bringing it to the boil again (takes about a minute). As soon as you drop that pasta into the boiling salted water, you have 8 minutes until your dinner should be served. Set your timer and have your colander in the sink so you can easily drain the pasta when the timer dings.

Heat your favorite skillet moderately hot. (I cook with gas so it only takes a second but if using electric, I guess you'll have to wait on the burner to get hot) Always heat the skillet before adding butter or oil as you'll find that foods don't stick and burn if you do it this way. Once the skillet is hot, add about 2 TBSP of unsalted butter and an equal amount of good oil. I like olive oil but you use whatever floats yer boat. The reason to add oil is that the butter adds flavor but will burn and darken over high heat. The oil has a higher tolerance for heat than butter so you mix them for the best of both worlds. Swirl them together and as soon as the butter foam subsides, you are ready to add the shrimp.

At this point, I turn my burner up very high. I love to cook everything very fast and on a really hot flame. Shrimp cooks very quickly and garlic burns quickly and turns bitter if you cook it too long so this is what I do... Dump in all the shrimp and toss it a bit, coating all with the butter/oil mixture for about a minute. Then, add the cloves of finely chopped, smashed garlic. Toss (or stir) the shrimp, turning it over as needed. Things are cooking nicely, eh? Shrimp is pink and the meat is bright white or nearly there. Now you must deglaze the pan with lemon juice. I just do it to taste and don't measure. I guess maybe a little over a quarter cup of lemon juice to start, give or take. This makes the sauce piquant. Keep cooking until shrimp starts to turn opaque and a nice little lemon butter sauce forms in the pan.

Ready to de-glaze Flaurella's Shrimp

Add the freshly chopped parsley to the shrimp, stir the pasta, check the timer, drink some wine and keep tossing the shrimp in the pan. This all happens quickly! About 4 to 5 minutes should have passed since you placed the shrimp on the heat. Shake the pan again and as soon as the timer dings, if you haven't already, turn off the heat on the shrimp and let sit while you lift the pot of pasta, take it to the sink and drain those delish carbs into your waiting colander. Turn the drained pasta into a large serving bowl and add a little olive oil and salt and pepper. You can also add some Parmesan or Romano cheese if you like. Toss gently. Shake the shrimp in the skillet once more making sure it is all pink and fully cooked, add salt and cracked pepper to taste. Dinner is ready!

Serve some pasta on each plate, top with your shrimp scampi. You can sprinkle with more fresh herbs or even some (more) cheese if you like. Serve with your fave white wine and a nice little salad and enjoy. This is the fastest and easiest dinner ever.

Flaurella's Scampi with Linguini

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