Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Shrimp Sauté, sans Flambé

I'm going to start this post with a caveat: there will be no lighting your kitchen on fire in the making of this dish! My oh-so-poetic title for this Shrimp Sauté, sans Flambé dish is not a flambé-gone-terribly-wrong kitchen horror story, but rather a well thought out cautionary approach with a likable rhyme to boot. I intentionally skipped the risk of lighting my kitchen (and myself) on fire by foregoing the flambé step. For all my chef 101s, flambé (pronounced flahm-BAY) is when one adds alcohol to a hot pan to create a burst of flames. But I am posting this recipe because despite forgoing the flames, this dish still has serious fire— and is totally delish.
Inspired by Waverly's Shrimp Sautee with a Flambe and a Jete, I set out to make a simple stew of fresh shrimp, dry Vermouth, diced tomatoes, and feta; confident that I couldn't go wrong with this tried-and-true Mediterranean combo. Starting off with a garlicky, chile flake base was a no-brainer too. I knew the dish would be good. But I hoped, sans flambé, it could still be great.

It wasn't just great. It was AMAZING! I had no intention of even posting this afterthought of a quick weeknight dinner, but the dish was all around excellent and I couldn't wait to share it with you. I've made a lot of pleasant yet mediocre white wine and tomato sauces for quick meals in the past, but the secret to this recipe is to use dry Vermouth—the naturally infused herbs in the alcohol pair perfectly with the succulent shrimp, which maintain that wonderful fire-kissed taste from the very first step, a quick sauté on high heat. Spicy chili flakes offer a nice kick against the acidic tomatoes and lemon. I wrote that baking the skillet to melt the feta was optional...but do you really want to skip that bubbling, golden goodness? I served this dish atop a hearty bed of quinoa, accompanied by a light salad of arugala tossed with olive oil, the lemon half you don't need for this recipe, and salt & pepper.  All done in 25 minutes from start to finish. So maybe no flame, but certainly worthy of a jeté!

Shrimp Sauté, sans Flambé
Serves 2

2 tbsp EVOO, divided
1/2 lb (about 22) raw shrimp, peeled, deveined, and patted dry
2 large garlic cloves, minced
1/4 tsp hot red pepper flakes
1/2 cup dry Vermouth
1 15 oz can diced tomatoes, drained
1/4 cup chopped parsley + 2 tbsp, divided
1/4 cup crumbed feta
juice of 1/2 lemon
1 cup cooked quinoa

1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

2. Heat 1 tbsp olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Flash cook shrimp for 1 minute, stirring frequently, until shrimp just begins to pink and the outsides turn brown. Remove shrimp from heat and set aside in a small bowl.

3. Add remaining olive oil (1 tbsp) to the skillet; reduce heat to medium- low. Add in garlic and red pepper flakes, stirring constantly so garlic does not burn, for 2 minutes. Add in 1/4 cup dry Vermouth and cook until Vermouth thickens and half the liquid is evaporated; about 3 minutes.

4. Return heat to medium and add tomatoes to skillet. Cook for 2 minutes and add the rest of the Vermouth (1/4 cup), chopped parsley, and dash of salt & pepper. (lf at this point too much liquid has evaporated, pour in more Vermouth.) After 1 minute, return shrimp to skillet. Turn off heat.

5. Sprinkle juice from 1/2 lemon over shrimp and tomato mixture, and add the crumbled feta cheese. Place skillet in the oven and bake for 6 minutes, or until cheese is melted and golden on top. (This step can be skipped if you don't mind forgoing the baked feta. Simply sprinkle in skillet and stir around for a more cheesy sauce; or sprinkle raw feta atop dish before serving as a garnish.)

6. Remove skillet from oven. Pour contents of skillet evenly over 2 bowls of quinoa, and sprinkle with remaining chopped parsley.

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