Scampi Over Linguini, My Way

Whenever our local Stop & Shop has frozen easy-peel jumbo shrimp on sale, I snag a 2-lb bag for quick weeknight meals to be served either as an Asian stir-fry or an Italian scampi.  Tonight it’s scampi my way, with the addition of chopped grape tomatoes and shallots to the classic dish, and lobster broth in lieu of white wine.

In both cases, both Asian and Italian, the dishes come together quickly, so it’s a good idea to set up your mise en place instead of grabbing and measuring ingredients while cooking.  This will avoid the pitfall of overcooking your shrimp, and ensuring that it all comes out with taste and texture that are restaurant quality.

Peeling and refrigerating the shrimp early in the day is a time-saver as well, and I like to brine them for just 3-5 minutes in a solution of 2 cups water/1 tbsp salt, then rinse and pat dry before refrigerating.  I find this helps improve the texture, and does not impart any additional saltiness.

All that’s needed to round out this meal is a salad of mixed greens and olives and some crusty bread…or that focaccia I made two days ago.

SCAMPI OVER LINGUINI MY WAY

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Mise en place set to go, including my vintage Perrier Jouet bottle which I’ve used for EVOO since 1984

INGREDIENTS:

1 lb jumbo shrimp (16-20 per pound), peeled and prepped as described above

2 tbsp each EVOO and unsalted butter

4 medium cloves garlic & 1 medium shallot minced

1 cup quartered grape tomatoes, gently squeezed to remove excess liquid and seeds

1/2 cup lobster broth (1/2 tsp Better Than Bouillon brand dissolved in 1/2 cup hot water)

3/4 tsp kosher salt

Freshly ground black pepper to taste

pinch of red pepper flakes

1/3 cup chopped Italian parsley

Freshly squeezed juice of 1/2 lemon, about 1-1/2 tbsp

8 ounces good linguini, such as Dececco brand, cooked al dente

PREPARATION:

In a 12″ cast iron skillet, melt butter and olive oil over medium heat.  Add garlic and shallots and sauté about 1 minute.  Add broth, salt, red pepper flakes generous grinding of black pepper, and tomatoes and simmer until broth is reduced by half.  Add shrimp and sauté until they just turn pink, about 2 minutes per side.  Stir in parsley and lemon juice and serve immediately over linguini.

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Simple Supper of Linguini with Mushrooms

Pasta – it’s become the centerpiece of so many meals here at Chez Jordan since we stopped frequenting our former favorite trattoria a couple of years ago.  We almost always ordered the same dishes there – fettuccine bolognese for me, and veal Milanese for my husband.  We stopped when I decided to master my own bolognese (see blog post from 3/4/15), and also discovered that a home-cooked dinner of pork chops milanese (also posted on 3/4/15) were even better than the veal.

Since then, we’ll have a pasta dish at least weekly – pasta carbonara, scampi over linguini, orrechiette with rappi, and so many more.  If it tastes good by itself, it should taste great over pasta, right?

Last night’s inspiration came from an 8-ounce box of Trader Joe’s crimini mushrooms that were just on the verge, and I couldn’t let them spoil before making the beef stew on my menu for this weekend.  Turning to my new favorite food site – Cooking with the NY Times – I found Florence Fabricant’s simple recipe for Linguine with Mushrooms.

A good start, but I can never resist tinkering. That often involves adding shallots, which can elevate the flavor profile of just about anything other than ice cream.  She also makes hers with olive oil, but I’ve been saving our bacon fat and using it the way my forebears used schmaltz.  They lived long, mostly healthy lives, so I’ve learned not to fear my food.  Also, borrowing from the bacon component of carbonara, this just seemed logical.

A confession about this photo.  It’s a stock photo that looks exactly like what I served; my iPhone was charging and I didn’t want our dinners to lose any heat before jumping into this:

LINGUINI WITH MUSHROOMS

(adapted from Florence Fabricant’s recipe – 2 hearty dinner servings)

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INGREDIENTS:

8 ounces good Italian linguini (such as DeCecco), cooked al dente and drained

4-5 Tbsp reserved bacon fat (or olive oil, if you prefer, but bacon fat makes it richer)

8 ounces crimini mushrooms sliced thinly

1 very plump glove garlic and 1 small shallot minced together

1/2 cup chopped Italian parsley

1/3 cup grated Pecorino Romano

S&P to taste

PREPARATION:

While your pasta is cooking, heat the bacon fat in a 12″ cast iron skillet over medium-high heat.      Sauté the mushrooms, stirring frequently until they’re nicely browned, about 6 minutes.  Season with S&P, add the garlic, shallot and parsley, and remove from heat.  Add the drained linguini to the skillet, tossing to combine everything, then toss again with the grated cheese.  Plate and top with another sprinkle of cheese.