Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Shrimp Fra Diavolo, Summer Edition

Menu: Shrimp Fra Diavolo, Summer Edition; Caesar Salad; Watermelon

Lessons learned:
  1. The summer edition works! The kids still don't eat it, though.
  2. Organic romaine + sourdough bread pieces + bottled Caesar dressing = easiest salad ever?
I've always loved the recipe for Shrimp Fra Diavolo in my America's Test Kitchen book.  It involves a whole bunch of garlic, a simple tomato and wine sauce, and lighting some shrimp on fire.  Over time, I've simplified it a bit to make it a simple but upscale weeknight meal.  Usually it calls for a can of tomatoes, but it being summertime and all, I decided to try out a fresher-tasting version.

Shrimp Fra Diavolo, Summer Edition

Half a pound of pasta (the original recipe suggests linguine, but I pretty much always use farfalle these days to make things more kid-friendly)
6 garlic cloves, minced
About three large fresh tomatoes, finely diced (and seeded if you prefer... I don't bother)
1/2 cup of dry white wine (something you would actually drink)
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper (if you take your spice seriously and want to make this extra fresh and summery, you can use a real hot pepper!)
1/2 pound large shrimp, peeled and deveined
Extra salt
About 1/4 cup cognac
1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped
Parmesan or Romano cheese, grated to taste

Boil the pasta.  In the meantime, heat some oil on the skillet over medium-low heat and saute five cloves of the garlic until it turns golden.  Add the tomatoes with their juice, then the wine, sugar, salt, and pepper.  Increase the heat to medium-high and simmer it until much of the liquid has cooked off and it looks like about the right amount of sauce for your pasta... somewhere between 5-8 minutes.  Toss the pasta with the sauce and the last clove of minced garlic.  Yup: RAW.

Clean out your skillet and put it back on the burner over high heat.  When the pan is smoking, add a couple tablespoons of olive oil and then the shrimp, making sure they are all in a single layer.  Sprinkle them with just a couple of shakes of salt, and don't turn them for about a minute so they can brown nicely.  Once they have, turn each one over and add the cognac to the pan.  It should burn off pretty quickly, leaving the shrimp with a sweet, delicate essence.

Add the cooked shrimp to the pasta and sauce, then garnish with the chopped parsley and cheese.

This serves two hungry adults.

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