SHRIMP MARINARA…..One of the classic dishes of the ITalianAmerican Restaurant and many homecooks. Basically a tomato sauce with Shrimp in it served over pasta. The most traditional pasta is long style, like Spaghetti, Linguine, etc but I love it with cut tubed macaroni like ziti rigati or penne rigati. Why? Rigati means RIDGED and it catches more of the sauce as does the hollow tubes. The sauce gets inside and there’s flavor in every bite. Often the dish is made with a simmering tomato sauce with the shrimp tossed in at the last minute to cook thru. This helps to impart a little of that sweet taste of the sea to the sauce but also often overcooks the shrimp. I have a two step process and i get the seafood essence in the sauce by adding some anchovies to the sauce saute’. This way the shrimp stay plump and crisp and there’s no overcooking. Marinara Sauce….is it Italian? Yes and no. The Term MARINARA in Italian cuisine means anything made with seafood/fish. In ItalianAmerican cuisine is means a meatless sauce, with or without the addition of seafood or fish. Lots of legends about this sauce but for purposes of this blogpost it really follows Italian tradition as the dish contains seafood. Just some “food for thought”. Make the sauce first and have it completed and just simmering when you make the shrimp and then just drop the shrimp into the sauce and turn off the heat. Brilliant.
4-6 SERVINGS 2 HOURS
2 28 oz cans of GOOD QUALITY TOMATOES…preferably Italian Imported plum tomatoes, or San Marzano DOP (my most preferred) OR 56 oz of imported tomato PASSATA (found in most Italian markets and some supermarkets) Using whole tomatoes from the can, simply mash well with your hands or use a food processor.
6 sliced CLOVES OF FRESH GARLIC
3 ANCHOVY FILETS
3 TBS. EXTRA VIRGIN OLIVE OIL
PINCH (OR MORE UP TO YOU) OF PEPERONCINO (DRIED HOT CHILE FLAKES)
2 TBS. DRY WHITE WINE, PREFERABLY ITALIAN (IT’S AN ITALIAN DISH, WHY NOT?)
Using a heavy bottomed (always recommended for tomato based sauces) high sided pot or pan heat the olive oil. Add the anchovies and peperoncino. Mash the anchovies into the heated oil. Lightly season with salt as the anchovy might be salty. Add the garlic and a few sprigs of fresh parsley. When the garlic is almost golden and fragrant add the white wine. Stir, bring to a boil then add the tomatoes. Blend well. Bring to a boil. THEN reduce to a simmer stirring every now and then. The sauce should reduce by almost 1/2 when it’s done. PRO TIP: A tomato sauce is done for pasta when you no longer see a separation of water and sauce. This problem was called “AQUADD” by my father when people’s pasta sauces leaked pink water around the plate/bowl. Not all canned tomatoes are the same and many American brands are made from tomatoes that are not “sauce” tomatoes. They take longer to cook the water out of them, bear that in mind when shopping. It’s why I’m a stickler with the imported Italian plums, they are naturally created with less water in the fruit so they are better suited to sauce making. OK, enough of all that…let me get you back to cooking. LOL. Taste the sauce for seasoning when you’re done. Now let’s make the shrimp.
36 PEELED AND DEVEINED USA WILD CAUGHT 16-20 SIZE SHRIMP
SALT/BLACK PEPPER. 1/2 TSP OF EACH BLENDED TOGETHER
3 TBS OLIVE OIL
1 lb PASTA OF CHOICE, COOKED ACCORDING TO THE PACKAGE INSTRUCTIONS. I LIKE FOR THIS PENNE RIGATE FROM ITALY.
Make sure to blot dry the shrimp with paper towels. This helps them caramelize on the edges and not steam. Using a heavy bottomed pan (like a cast iron) heat the olive oil to medium high. Place the shrimp in a bowl and toss well with the salt and pepper mixture. IN BATCHES, fry the shrimp JUST until they are lightly golden on the edges on both sides. Takes about 2 minutes per side. DO NOT CROWD THE PAN or you’ll be steaming the shrimp. Remove them to another bowl. When you are done frying the shrimp then add them to the SAUCE. Stir to blend well. Let them sit in the hot sauce for 3 minutes. While all this is happening you’ll have cooked the macaroni according to the directions. AL DENTE ALWAY!! Making sure not to add any Shrimp to the pasta, use your ladle to add just enough sauce to the pasta to coat it all. (PLEASE, don’t follow those pictures where the sauce sits on top of dry hot pasta, coat the pasta with the sauce!! but don’t drown it!). When you’ve done that, turn the pasta out onto a deep serving platter or bowl. NOW, Top the platter with the Shrimp, using a slotted spoon. Done. Add more sauce if you like or sauce on the side for everyone to add their preference. Garnish the plates with chopped parsley (or basil, some like basil with this, i’ve always been taught to just use parsley), and more peperoncino. BUON APPETITO!!!