Shrimp scampi with crusty bread to soak up the garlic, butter, and wine sauce is my new favorite dinner for entertaining. It’s special, easy to prepare, doesn’t require all day tending to, and is sophisticated while still remaining approachable. I’ve been making shrimp scampi for ages, serving it tossed with pasta. It’s always enjoyable, but this year, I nixed the pasta and chose to serve the scampi with a warmed loaf of ciabatta. Why haven’t I been doing this all along??? It’s insanely delicious! When the scampi is tossed with pasta, the flavor becomes less concentrated. The shrimp absorb more flavor from the sauce when served this way as well, taking them from ordinary to extraordinary. And, there is plenty of that amazing sauce left on the platter, ready to be mopped up with warmed, crusty bread.
There are two other components to this recipe that set it apart from common scampi recipes. First, briefly marinating the shrimp in olive oil and garlic… it’s a must. This way the garlic flavor penetrates the shrimp, not just sits on top of it. Second, making a simple shrimp stock from the shells and adding it to your sauce, adds another element of delightfulness! Seriously! The first couple of times I made this recipe, I didn’t think to do a reduced shrimp stock and although still a noteworthy recipe, with great flavor, I was questioning what else I could do to enhance the sauce. But the next time… as I completed the peeling of my last shrimp, I thought, I should make a shrimp stock reduction and add it to the sauce. I’ve done a reduced shrimp stock every time I make another of my favorite recipes for shrimp (shrimp, and grits), so why not with this recipe? The shrimp stock reduction was the ticket! Love when that happens! Your guests will not be able to pick out why your scampi is better than any they’ve eaten in the past, but you can bet they’ll notice a difference. Taking the time to do the additional steps, will reward you with a dinner you’ll want to recreate again and again.
I mentioned that I’m a fan of entertaining with the shrimp scampi as an entree. But, it’s also an awesome addition to a tapas menu or casual gathering where appetizers make up the menu. Guests love harassing the cooks in the kitchen, don’t they? If they’re going to be in there anyway, why not fill their mouths and bellies and keep them out of your hair while in the final stages of cooking. Invite everyone into the kitchen, Setting out cold appetizers such as a cheese board with the accompaniments of olives, nuts, and various cured meats and allow guests to chat, eat, and drink. Have the shrimp marinated and the shrimp stock made so that you’re just minutes away from serving this fabulous dish to your adoring fans.
This is certainly not a low-fat dinner option, having a hefty amount of butter. But, personally, I have 0 issues with high quality, grass-fed butter. Using real ingredients is what matters most to me. At the time of writing this post, we are still a couple of days away from the New Year, so… technically, we’re still in the glutinous eating time frame. Plenty of days ahead for counting calories. For now, enjoy and celebrate with loved ones and great food!
Serves 4 (as the main entree), easily doubled for more guests.
- 2 teaspoons olive oil
- Reserved shrimp shells from 1 lb. of shrimp
- 1/2 cup onion, roughly chopped
- 2 garlic cloves, smashed
- 1/4 cup celery stalk, roughly chopped
- 1/4 cup carrot, roughly chopped
- 1 small handful of Italian flat leaf parsley, stems included
- A few sprigs of fresh thyme and oregano (optional)
- 1 bay leaf
- water to cover shells
- 1 lb. large shrimp, peeled and deveined (shells reserved for stock)
- 4 cloves garlic, sliced paper thin
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 4 tablespoons olive oil, divided
- Pinch or two of red pepper flakes
- 1/4 cup dry, white wine
- 1/4 cup reduced shrimp stock
- 1 lemon, juiced
- 5 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1/4 cup fresh Italian parsley leaves, chopped
Peel and devein the shrimp, reserving the shells. Heat olive oil over medium-high heat in a large saucepan. Add the shrimp shells and cook, stirring frequently about 5 minutes. Next, add the remaining ingredients for the stock, except water. Stir to combine and cover, reducing heat to low. Allow to cook for about 10 minutes, concentrating the flavors. Pour in water, just to cover shrimp shell mixture, and reduce over medium-low heat, uncovered for about 30 minutes. Pour through a fine, mesh strainer into a bowl and set aside until needed.
Begin by marinating the peeled and deveined shrimp. In a large bowl, add the shrimp, sliced garlic, 2 tablespoons of olive oil and salt. Gently stir to combine and allow to marinate, in the refrigerator, for 30 minutes.
After marinating time for shrimp is complete, have all the rest of the ingredients ready to go, finishing the recipe will only take minutes at this point. In a large skillet, heat the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil over medium heat. Add the shrimp, cooking about 1 minute per side. The shrimp should be just cooked through, even slightly undercooked, but not brown. Remove from the pan to a plate with a slotted spoon, leaving behind the oil. Add a pinch or two of red pepper flakes to the pan, sauteeing briefly. Now, the wine, reduced stock, and lemon Juice go in. Reduce this mixture by half over medium-high heat. Add the butter, swirling the pan until the butter has melted and the sauce has thickened ( 5-7 minutes). At this point, check for seasoning, adding salt if needed, keeping in mind the shrimp were salted earlier in the marinade. Return the shrimp to the pan and lightly toss to coat. Remove immediately to a warmed platter, sprinkle with chopped, fresh parsley, and serve with crusty bread or rice.