Quarantine Shrimp Scampi

Onward and upward, humanity. Send your favorite essential worker an e-hug – these are dark days, but we will get through. And since we are all together, hunkered down in our homes with our families, we can take advantage of the opportunity to cook together and eat together. If you’re alone, you can make this in a single serving size, leaving the rest of the package of shrimp in the freezer. No waste.

Most of us, at least in my part of the world, are seeing shortages at the supermarket. Sometimes it seems random: one week it’s toilet paper, the next it’s eggs, so that we never know what we might be able to get when we arrive at the shop to stand six feet away from each other. So here’s another flexible ‘recipe’ that makes something delicious with variations on ingredients that are likely to store well, so that you can avoid wasting food and money.

I know shrimp is a bit of a luxury for a lot of people. This might be for a special night, and you can stretch it, as I’ll show you later. But for this recipe you can use any size, cooked or uncooked, anything you can get on sale, or maybe have in the freezer. That’s where I got mine. It was medium sized, precooked and frozen, but with a few adjustments, you can use what’s available to you.

Start with the shrimp.

Mostly thawed, sunning itself in the light of a bottle of limoncello.

I think ‘tail off’ would have been better, but that’s not what I had. I let it thaw a bit, then air dried on a paper towel. Then heat the pan with a tablespoon of butter. I’m going to say that the butter is pretty critical here. Olive oil would have too much flavor, and I don’t think margarine would have enough. If you have to use oil, you’ll need to add more flavor somewhere else in the process. I chopped some onions as well. Onions keep forever when stored in a cool, dry place, so they’re a great pantry item. Melt the butter. If your shrimp is uncooked, add it with the onions. If it’s cooked, soften the onions in the butter and leave the shrimp out until the very end.

Garlic. I thought I had some. I didn’t. I did have quality garlic powder. I won’t argue that it is the same, but it is ok, provided you use it properly. It needs to go in the butter early so it can ‘bloom’ a bit and really express itself. Whole garlic is also decent in storage, but what we don’t have, we’re doing without. So garlic powder it is. I also added Italian seasoning to the butter to let it infuse into the fat a bit. Got fresh basil and oregano? Awesome. Use that, but add it at the end. The dried stuff needs time.

The standard addition here is white wine. I also thought I had a little of that. Let’s not judge each other, friends. It was gone. But as you see, I had limoncello and vodka. This recipe needs a little lemon juice, so I used a light hand on the limoncello and skipped the vodka. Vodka is fine, but it doesn’t bring much flavor. It’s not meant to taste boozy, but I’m not here to tell you how to live. You can also use chicken broth. Once you’ve whisked the herbs, butter and booze or broth together, and the onions are soft, lay the shrimp in the pan. They just need to heat, not cook, so you only need a few minutes, depending on the size. If you had raw shrimp, and put it in with the onions at the beginning, it’s done when it’s pink. You want to let it sit until the liquid is mostly cooked away, so that it’s more glazed than soupy.

Once it’s done, do what you want with it. Need to stretch it out? Serve over rice or pasta. Want to add veggies? Steamed asparagus or broccoli would be nice. Alternately, whatever you have that your family will eat is a perfect complement. Me? I got grated parmesan and a fork and sat down at the table with a bit of the limoncello and some tonic water. Is it authentic Italian? I’m going to say no. But it is quick and tasty, and has enough flexibility that you can make it with what you have, where you are. And that is what is important now.

Just me and my bowl and my favorite fork.

So that’s it, fellow citizens of the world. Please remember, we’re all in this together.

Take care and eat well.

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