Spicy Garlic Shrimp Sauté with Butter and Saffron
This is the story about a heavenly-delicious garlic shrimp sauté and the dinner party from hell.
As a freelancer, establishing working relationships is important, so, on many occasions, Adam and I had to entertain art directors and magazine editors in our Nashville home for “the dance.” Usually, these business dinners were okay; not too uptight, short and sweet. You know the drill – what my friend describes as the “Scratch and Sniff” – to see how you like them and if they like you. Again, most of them were professional and pleasant, even enjoyable. Save one. The set-up: an older distinguished gentleman, extremely respected in the industry, married to the much younger bohemian artist (a little earthy-crunchy and “out there,” who liked to say “Yo” a lot for some reason). And their four-year-old son. They introduced us to John John, muttered something about not being able to get a babysitter and began gushing about the divine act of his birth with way too many details as to how he was brought into this world. About a minute in, we knew we were in for a long evening. As they continued babbling on about their “miracle baby,” my Psychic Friends Network raised a red flag on their professed babysitter woes. Please. It was obvious they wanted the kid with them at all times, however inappropriate.
As I poured cocktails and dished out a few pre-dinner nibbles, the doting parents completely immersed themselves in polite (a.k.a. boring) conversation while that kid ransacked our house, picking up valuables and anything else he could get his dirty little hands on, throwing them in the air (breaking several things). He screamed at the top of his lungs to his mother that he wanted a snack right now, chased and terrorized our dogs, who made a beeline under the bed, while they sat there and did nothing, casually laughing it off, saying, “He’s like this all the time! So full of energy! And, he’s only four!”
He’s really good at it, I thought, gritting my teeth.
I never like to refer to food as indulgent, only poor parenting. And, boy, oh, boy, were they. Normally, I love children – I think I’m a terrific aunt to my nieces and nephews. But, this…this was not a normal child. He was beyond spoiled and out of control. And way too smart for his own good. Adam and I exchanged a series of “looks” that stated the obvious without saying a word – we could not stand that kid. I simply could not fathom people allowing their charge to behave so abominably in someone else’s home – I come from a long line of “Spare the rod, spoil the child” rearing. We were both now wondering if we even wanted to do business with this guy.
Now, for those of us without children who ever entertained the idea of becoming parents (however briefly), John John was the poster child for birth control. The Ambassador for Abstinence. He was Satan. And for the next several hours, we were in hell. Satan did not wear out or calm down – in fact, he got worse. When we (that would be Adam and me, not the parents) finally corralled him into sitting down at the table for dinner, wriggling the whole time in defiance, he refused to eat anything on his plate, tipping it over and spilling the contents all over my new Damask tablecloth.
Not wanting the buttered pasta noodles that I had set aside for him (from the more adult garlicky shrimp sauté with linguine), he demanded a grilled cheese sandwich and he told me exactly how he wanted it prepared. (If I hadn’t been so p.o.’ed, I might have been impressed with his culinary direction.) No “I’m sorry” or a sheepish “Is that okay?” from Mom. Nothing! I didn’t know who I wanted to throttle more – Satan’s parents or Beelzebub himself. So, I made the little devil a cheese sandwich while he pounded his fists on our table saying, “Dinner, dinnnnnerrrrrr!!!” I fully expected to see his head spin around, Linda Blair-style.
Their lack of disciplining him was utterly appalling as they ate their dinner with relish (and begged for the recipe later). After three and a half diabolical hours of entertaining these people and their spawn, they finally got up to leave. Satan’s mother was holding her little bundle of joy (not!), who had just that moment dozed off. On the front stoop, they whispered their thanks for a lovely evening, softly adding, “We’ll have to do it again real soon!”
I wanted to say that I’d rather stick needles in my eyes. But, it was Adam, who, in an absolute, genius stroke of brilliance, with an ear-to-ear grin, had the bestest reply ever. He leaned down, ruffled the sleeping fiend’s hair and loudly said, “Oh…goodnight, John John!” then waved them off.
As Adam closed the front door behind him, the muffled sounds of the child’s deafening cries could be heard as his parents pulled out of the driveway with faces that were right out of “Night of the Living Dead.” I was in full-belly laugh mode when I asked what in the world possessed him to wake up that kid on purpose. He flashed a wicked, dimpled smile and said, “I guess the Devil made me do it.”
This dish is a version of what I served that evening. A recipe kind of in the vein of Shrimp Diavolo without the usual tomato-based sauce, leaning more towards a scampi (an Italian term for the tail portion of a small lobster or prawn but considered in the U.S. as a dish of large shrimp cooked in garlic, butter, white wine and herbs) but still feeling the diavolo vibe since it’s spiced with chiles. After marinating in a flavorful bath, the fruits of the sea are quickly cooked; then you create a delicious golden sauce with saffron, butter and white wine. It’s the bomb.com.
And just by the bye, “diavolo” is Italian for “devil.” Who knew?
- For the marinade:
- 3 garlic cloves, minced
- ¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
- ½ teaspoon dried basil
- ½ teaspoon red pepper flakes
- 3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 1-1/2 pounds large raw shrimp; peeled and deveined with the tails attached
- kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- For the sauce:
- 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
- pinch of saffron threads, crushed and dissolved in 1 tablespoon hot water
- 3 tablespoons white wine
- 1-2 tablespoons fresh minced parsley
- ¼ cup freshly grated Parmesan, plus extra for serving
- cooked linguine, for serving
- In a large bowl, combine the garlic, olive oil, butter, basil, red pepper flakes and lemon juice. Add the shrimp and toss to coat. Cover and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes and up to two hours. Heat a large sauté pan over medium until very hot, but not smoking. Add the shrimp in a single layer and the marinade to the pan; season to taste with salt and pepper. Sauté the shrimp, stirring with a slotted spoon, until the shrimp are rosy pink and firm to the touch, about 3 to 5 minutes. Remove the shrimp to a bowl. Add the butter, saffron and white wine to the pan and cook for two minutes, reducing the liquid slightly. Return the shrimp to the pan and stir to combine.
- Remove the pan from the heat; stir in the parsley and Parmesan. Serve over or with the pasta with extra parsley, Parmesan and black pepper.
Content and photography © 2013 Hutchstone, LC. All rights reserved.