(Tom and Tracy Note: Two of our favorite places to dine on the road in Southern California or Northern California are at one of the homes of our intrepid traveling companions, Kim and Mary (we were very happy when they added their new location). Both are wonderful home chefs, plus they don’t charge us a corkage fee. This recipe is their daughter’s favorite and just one of the numerous terrific recipes they have created for us throughout the years.)
This is a super easy recipe, as long as you do all the preparation before you start cooking. Once you start things go quickly. The trickiest part is finishing the pasta at the same time the shrimp is done. Err on the side of finishing the pasta early because you don’t want the cooked shrimp mixture to sit around. The recipe calls for capellini, but we have used every variation of pasta with success (even brown rice). Be cautious with the red-pepper flakes, the dish can get hot fast. Five tablespoons of butter seem like a lot, and we have frequently cut back, but the recipe does work best with all five tablespoons. Be careful not to overcook the shrimp. Patting the shrimp dry is critical; otherwise, they will steam, that’s not really what you want. Also, don’t overload the skillet with shrimp, or again they will steam.
1/4 cup olive oil (or ghee)
1 lb. peeled and deveined large shrimp (raw; 20 to 25 per lb), patted dry
4 large garlic cloves, forced through a garlic press
1/2 teaspoon dried hot red-pepper flakes
1/2 cup dry white wine
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
5 tablespoons unsalted butter
3/4 lb. capellini (angel-hair pasta)
1/2 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
Combine red pepper flakes, wine, salt, and pepper and set aside. Assemble all other ingredients.
Bring a 6 to 8-quart pot of salted water to a boil. Cook pasta in boiling water until just tender, about 4-5 minutes (check package directions). Reserve 1-cup pasta-cooking water, then drain pasta in a colander.
Meanwhile, heat oil in a 12-inch heavy skillet over moderately high heat until hot but not smoking, then sauté shrimp, turning over once, until just cooked through, about 2 minutes, and transfer with a slotted spoon to a large bowl. Be careful not to overcook (remember you will place shrimp in hot sauce at the end, so it will cook some more).
Add garlic to oil remaining in hot skillet and heat for 30 to 45 seconds, until fragrant. Pour in the red pepper flakes, wine, salt, and pepper mixture and cook over high heat, stirring occasionally about 1-2 minutes. Add butter to skillet, stirring until melted. Stir in shrimp.
Toss pasta well with shrimp mixture and parsley in a large bowl, adding some of the reserved cooking water if necessary to keep moist.
Serves three as a main course; four as a complement