Whether you’ve been married a couple of decades or courting someone new, there’s nothing sweeter than date night. The anticipation and the eagerness to make a good impression makes for a pleasant level of tension that, when the right impression is struck, offers significant payoff.
Date night in, with a great meal, will surely result in a memorable night and to me there’s no deal-closer like shrimp in a creamy tomato and wine sauce. If the shrimp is succulent, cooked to the right point (NOT overcooked) and the sauce is thick and rich it will be a memorable experience.
The ingredients are few and simple, the key to getting this right is in the technique. Make sure the shrimp is neither undercooked nor overcooked and the sauce simmers long enough to thicken properly. But those two goals seem at odds with one another so how to strike the right balance? Here’s a recipe years in the mastering:
You have to think of the sauce and the shrimp as two separate components whose marriage makes the meal’s success. You’ll flash-sautee the shrimp in screaming hot oil to get an initial crust, but only for 30 to 45 seconds, then set aside in a dish. The sauce will be cooked in the same pan to get a hint of the shrimp kissed in fire. The full-on shrimp flavor is imparted with a wine stock made by boiling the shells in wine.
You’re going to make a cheater’s stock using the shrimp shells. Put them in a small saucepan, add about 1/2 cup of the wine. Set it to boil. When the sauce is ready you’ll strain this and add to the sauce.
This recipe’s not hard and will make your date know they’re special.
- 1lb Shrimp (12 - 15 count, with shell)
- 1 Large Ripe Tomato, Blanched, Peeled, and Chopped.
- 4 or 5 Cloves Garlic, Sliced
- ½ Red Onion, Finely Diced
- ¼ Orange or Yellow Bell Pepper, Finely Diced
- 2 tblsp Tomato Paste
- ¼ to ½ Cup Fresh Mushrooms, Sliced
- 1 to 1½ Cups Wine
- ¼ Cup Heavy Cream
- 2 Bay Leaves
- Olive Oil
- Peel shrimp.
- Add the shells to a small saucepan, add ½ cup wine, set to boil.
- Season shrimp liberally with seasoning of your choice (I used Varga's seasoning blend)
- Heat a large skillet until smoking, add olive oil to coat bottom of the pan.
- Add the shrimp to the hot pan, tossing frequently, for 30 to 45 seconds. Place shrimp in a plate to rest.
- In the same skillet add the onions, garlic, tomatoes, and peppers. Season with salt, and freshly ground pepper. Saute until wilted.
- At this point the wine with the shells should have been boiling. Add this liquid (straining out the shells) to the same skillet.
- Add the cream and the bay leaves.
- Simmer for 20 minutes.
- Add the tomato paste.
- Simmer until thickened to your preference.
- minutes before service, add the shrimp to the sauce.
- Turn the heat off, leave the shrimp in the sauce to finish cooking.
- Serve over your preferred pasta.
- Garnish with a little chopped cilantro.
The only problem is this meal will raise expectations considerably.