If you’ve been paying attention, you may have noticed that I’ve started watching America’s Test Kitchen in the early afternoons. Or, more accurately, Cooks Country, which is the latest season. I love it. After America’s Test Kitchen comes Lidia’s Italy, which is a great cooking show, and one that sometimes gives me some great ideas. One day last week, I saw Lidia make this lovely shrimp dish, which she suggested sopping up with bread, but in the notes said could also work well with a pasta. So I tried it a day or so later, using the pasta variation. My verdict? So-so. Just not enough flavor. But it seemed like there was potential, so I tried again, following the directions a bit more closely (sometimes when I’m cooking, I go a bit haywire on the directions…one reason I don’t bake often), and thought we would try it with the bread instead of pasta. I think we have a winner here, though if we had more money, I would go for the Jumbo shrimp she recommends, rather than the simply large shrimp that is more in our price range. The shrimp was delicious, and the sauce had us tearing off bread and sopping it up to get every last bit. Enjoy! Or, to make Ted laugh, “Abundanza!”
Jumbo Shrimp Buzara Style
Buzara di scampi
Shrimp alla buzara is common all around the north Adriatic coast. When I make this quick and delicious dish at our house, I give everyone an empty bowl for the shells. I bring the pan to the table, we roll up our sleeves and dig in, savoring the sweet meat, then sucking and licking every drop of sauce from the shells. All that’s needed is some grilled bread.
If you wish, use smaller, inexpensive shrimp (shelled and cleaned) in the recipe to make a terrific dressing for spaghetti or linguine. And leftovers make a great risotto.
24 large raw shrimp, 1 ounce apiece (U- 16 size )
8 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil or more
3 plump garlic cloves finely chopped
1/2 cup finely chopped shallots
1 teaspoon coarse sea salt or kosher salt
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 cup white wine
1 cup of water
Freshly ground black pepper or to taste
1 tablespoon bread crumbs or more if needed
2 tablespoons chopped fresh Italian parsley
• A heavy-bottomed sauté pan, 10- to 12-inches diameter, for the sauce
• A heavy-bottomed 13- to 14-inch skillet for searing the shrimp
Without removing any of the shell, remove the vein (digestive tract) that runs inside the curving back of each shrimp: Slice open the back with a sturdy sharp paring knife, cutting through the shell, and scrape out the vein. Rinse the shrimp and pat dry.
Pour ¼ cup of the olive oil in the sauté pan and set over medium-high heat. Scatter in the garlic, cook until sizzling, then stir in the shallots. When they’re sizzling, stir in ¼ teaspoon of the salt and ¼ cup of the wine. Cook, stirring frequently, until the wine is nearly completely evaporated and the shallots have softened. Drop in the tomato paste and stir it around the pan for a minute, coating the shallots and caramelizing.
Pour in the rest of the wine, bring to the boil quickly, then add the water and ¼ teaspoon salt, stirring. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and let the sauce bubble gently and reduce for about 5 minutes while you sear the shrimp.
Pour 2 tablespoons of olive oil in the wide skillet and set over high heat until very hot. Scatter the shrimp in the pan, toss them in the oil and season with ½ teaspoon salt. Cook for just a minute or slightly longer, until the shells are lightly colored and the flesh underneath is opaque, then turn off the heat.
With the sauce still bubbling, slide in the seared shrimp and tumble to coat them all with sauce. Stir in the coarsely ground pepper, then the tablespoon bread crumbs—use more crumbs if the sauce is thin. Cook for another 2 minutes then turn off the heat.
Drizzle over the remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil—or more to taste—and incorporate it well, tumbling the shrimp in the pan. Sprinkle the parsley on top and serve immediately.