Sunday, December 13, 2009

Recipe #16: Caffe NV's Shrimp Saganaki

Without exaggeration, this dish really is my favorite food ever. If I had to live on only one thing for the rest of my life, I'd choose Shrimp Saganaki. I cannot take credit for this deliciously magical wonderful culinary creation -- it's the work of the chefs at Caffe NV in Waterford, Connecticut, my favorite restaurant. This is the only entree I've ordered there in the seven years I've been going to Caffe NV, and not once has it been anything less than stellar.

I've mentioned Caffe NV before -- my look-alike of their goat cheese spread makes a wonderful accompaniment to this dish, and can be found here -- and I really do mean it with all my heart (and stomach) when I tell you that their food is delicious, and they have not paid me a word to say that!

A local newspaper printed this recipe a few years ago, in their food column. I Googled the name of the dish, to see if by chance -- even though the restaurant doesn't have a website -- maybe someone else had a similar dish. I had finally found it! I can't find the recipe online anymore, but please understand -- this is NOT my original creation. I am reposting it here and showing how I've made it, but it is not my recipe. It's easy, requires only ingredients most people have in their kitchens already, and is so worth it! Please note -- wherever you see a (*) next to an ingredient or tool, there is a comment about it below the recipe. Enjoy!

Caffe NV's Shrimp Saganaki

Cook time: 25 minutes


2 tablespoons olive oil
1/4 pound shrimp, peeled and deveined*
salt and pepper to taste
3 cloves chopped garlic*
2 ounces white wine
2 ounces hot sauce*
2 diced plum tomatoes
1/2 cup tomato sauce
1/2 cup feta cheese

Saute pan
Small casserole dish or pie plate

Heat the oil in a sauté pan. Cook shrimp on both sides until they start to turn pink. Add the garlic and sauté until tender.

Add the white wine and hot sauce and cook about 3 to 5 minutes, or until mixture has reduced a bit.

Add the diced tomatoes and the tomato sauce, salt and pepper to taste, and cook about 7 minutes.

Transfer to an oven-proof dish and top with feta cheese (use crumbled only).

Bake in a 350-degree oven 7 to 10 minutes until cheese is melted. Serve with sliced crusty bread as an appetizer or toss with pasta and serve as an entree (my preferred serving suggestion).

Yields four entree servings.

-Shrimp: I used the shrimp I had on hand which were 31-40 count (meaning 31-40 = about a pound), but I found them a little small. I'd recommend using 16-20 count. Though slightly pricier, this recipe only calls for a quarter pound. Even if you use more than the recipe calls for, you can likely get half a pound for $6 or less.

-Garlic: I don't usually use fresh garlic when I cook, unless it's going to be almost raw in the dish. What I use instead is a huge jar of Spice World minced garlic. It saves me the time of having to chop (and have my hands smell like) garlic for any given recipe. For this recipe, if you use the jarred garlic, use one tablespoon.

-Hot sauce: I've tried all kinds and brands in this recipe, and the best flavor, by far, comes from using Frank's Red Hot sauce. Tabasco or a generic "Louisiana hot sauce" will do in a pinch, but to me, Frank's isn't just hot, it's also got a lot of flavor.

-Entree vs. appetizer: I love having this as an entree. To do that, I cooked one pound of penne in salted water, while the shrimp and tomatoes were sauteeing. It was timed perfectly -- by the time the shrimp and tomatoes came out of the oven, the pasta was just finished draining. Toss sauce with pasta in a large bowl and serve. One pound of pasta and the sauce makes enough for four.