Sunday, July 18, 2010

Drunken fusilli with shrimp

Why is this pasta so drunk? It's downright shameful. You cook dried fusilli in a mixture of white wine and chicken stock until it's all absorbed and the pasta is soft and creamy. Then in go some shrimp and lemons. Easy and yummy. You have to stand over it and stir occasionally, but that's why you should make sure the wine you use is one you want to drink too.I start out by peeling and deveining 1/2 pound of large-ish shrimp. Just because otherwise I'll be annoyed if I forget to do it early on and then have to hustle on it at the end. Stick them in the fridge until you're ready to add them in (which isn't until the last 3 minutes of cooking so they've got a while).Mince up about 1/2 of a large onion and saute in a healthy mix of 1 tablespoon butter and 1 tablespoon olive oil.Just give the onions about 4 minutes or so over medium-high heat--they don't need to get browned, just lightly softened and flavorful.Now add fusilli! This is half of one of a regular 1 lb. bag (the amounts here are just about perfect for 2 people so increase as needed by using 1 pound of shrimp, the whole bag of pasta, etc). Just add it in and stir it around in the butter-olive oil for about 1 minute or so.Now here's the drinky drunk part. The pasta will absorb a lot of liquid when dry-cooked in this manner, but the trick is not to add it all at once--much like making risotto. I mix one cup white wine with 1 cup chicken stock and add the mixed liquid in 2 cups at a time. You may end up needing to add in nearly 6 cups total. So, a cup of wine...Then plus a cup of stock...and voila. Just repeat as needed throughout the cooking process.Go ahead and pour your first two cups of the wine-chicken stock mixture over the pasta in your pan.Stir it around won't seem like anything is really happening at first.But then as you go you'll realize those greedy fusilli are drinking in the wine and getting softer. The liquid will start to dwindle after about 5 minutes, so go ahead and add in another 2 cups of the wine-stock mix. Stir stir stir. You can see how they're absorbing it all and getting cooked through slowly. Hopefully you are also absorbing some wine as you stand there by the stove.Go ahead and taste for doneness after the second batch of liquid is almost absorbed--does it need more? It probably will, but maybe not a full 2 cups so just add a little bit in at a time. Keep on tasting the pasta at this point because you want to know when it's al dente. The whole stirring-and-absorbing process should take you about 15-20 minutes; the pasta should be soft and well-coated with a bit of creamy sauce as a residual from the absorbtion of all that booze and stock. Now, what about those peeled shrimp in the fridge?When the pasta is done to your liking, go ahead and dump in your shrimpies.Roll them around with the pasta until they turn a lovely pink, then remove the pan from heat (about 2 minutes, tops). Squeeze in the juice from a lemon and toss everything with a few slices that you've cut from the squeezed out half. Now is a good time to taste for salt--if your stock was very salty you might not need any or just a little--and add fresh pepper plus some chopped basil, if you have it handy.I served this with my absolute favorite summer vegetable broil. This one was perfect, tiny tomatoes together with okra and peppers. They turned out to be just the right partners for this tipsy pasta.

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