Slow-cooked shrimp: Because any other way is too fast
A lot of people don’t cook shrimp properly, said Ashley Christensen in Poole’s: Recipes and Stories From a Modern Diner (Ten Speed Press). I love shrimp scampi, but in most restaurants, the shrimp itself is cooked to a texture that “can only be described as rubbery.” For Poole’s, my Raleigh, N.C., flagship, I came up with a technique to solve the scampi dilemma, and include it in the recipe below.
“Shrimp, like any protein, seize and contract when exposed to high heat.” So skip the high heat. Start instead with a cold pan and slowly warm the shrimp and butter together. When you do so, “the shrimp retain a perfectly tender texture and the butter emulsifies into a beautiful silky sauce.” I serve them with our marinated peppers, an “endlessly versatile” condiment that adds “a piquant punch to nearly any dish you can imagine.” The peppers “get better with time,” so make them a day in advance if possible.
Recipe of the week
Slow shrimp with marinated peppers
½ cup kosher salt
2 cups ice
1½ lbs shrimp (26 to 30), peeled, deveined, tails removed
4 tbsp cold unsalted butter, cut into cubes
1 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
½ to ¾ cup drained marinated peppers
Juice of half a lemon
Mix salt and 4 cups water in large bowl, stirring until salt dissolves. Add ice and shrimp; let sit 15 minutes. Drain shrimp; pat dry. Place shrimp in a cold pan with butter and olive oil over medium heat. Slowly roll shrimp and butter around pan. Keep stirring, folding shrimp over in butter in slow, continuous motion. Cook until shrimp are pink throughout and butter has completely melted, 7 to 9 minutes. Fold in peppers; cook 1 minute. Stir in lemon juice and 2 cranks of pepper mill. Serves 4.
For the marinated peppers:
3 large red bell peppers • sea salt • 1 cup olive oil • 1 fresh bay leaf • 12 thyme sprigs • 3 cloves garlic • zest of 1 lemon, cut into wide strips with a Y-peeler
Place peppers over a high gas flame. Using metal tongs to turn, char entire surface of each. (If you don’t have a gas range, roast under broiler set on high, rotating to char evenly.) Transfer peppers to metal bowl; cover with plastic wrap; let sit 15 minutes.
With a dish towel, gently rub off skins. Tear peppers in half; remove stems and seeds. Lay halves flat, cut in half horizontally, then slice vertically into batons 2 inches long, ¼ inch thick. Toss in medium bowl with ½ tsp salt.
In a small saucepan, combine oil, bay, thyme, garlic, and lemon zest. Set over medium heat until oil begins slowly bubbling. Reduce heat to low; cook 4 to 5 minutes more, then pour over peppers. Marinate in refrigerator at least 6 hours, preferably overnight. Peppers in oil will keep 2 weeks. Remove thyme, garlic, bay, and zest before using. Makes 1 cup.
Amaro: A primer
Amaro might be the ideal drink for the holidays, said Troy Patterson in Bloomberg.com. Though amaro is Italian for “bitter,” that doesn’t tell the full story about the stomach-settling digestif—typically a brandy infused with aromatics. Some are minty, some nutty, some citrusy. The trio below make a nice beginner’s flight—to be presented between a main course and dessert. Averna ($30). Sicily’s “orangey, licoriceish” standby is like a utility infielder. It’s nice early in the day mixed with tonic, great in an Amaro Sour, and pleasing as a coffee additive after dinner. Amaro Nonino Quintessentia ($48). “Graceful in its play of bitter-orange and cinnamon notes,” this light grappa-based amaro is perfect for the newbie who “wants to earn easy credit for sophistication.” Amaro Sibilla ($53). An acquired taste and the funkiest option here, this complex digestif offers “a dried-fruit chewiness” that’s excellent with pecan pie.