Sunday, June 22, 2014

Baked Scampi

Baked Scampi

Here’s a dish that is so easy to prepare you’ll feel guilty when your dinner companion raves about it. The flavor combination of tarragon, garlic and lemon are a natural with just about any mild seafood. We use them all sparingly to avoid overpowering the distinctive but delicate taste of the shrimp.

If truly fresh shrimp is available to you, by all means use it for this recipe and any other time you prepare a dish with shrimp as the primary ingredient. But be sure that they are truly fresh and not “previously frozen” and then thawed. Almost all commercially available shrimp is frozen before packing and shipping around the country, so what I can buy at my grocer here in the Midwest will always have been frozen at some time. You’d really have to have a special relationship with a shrimp boat to get absolutely fresh shrimp away from the coastal waters from which they came.  So if your choice comes down to selecting shrimp frozen in time and ice or shrimp that were frozen but escaped – buy the little critters that are still frozen. You never know how long ago they were thawed from their previously frozen state.

Baked Scampi
Yield: Serves 2     Preparation Time: 25 Minutes     Cooking Time: 12 Minutes


• ½ Cup Dry White Wine
• 4 Tablespoons Unsalted Butter, melted
• 2½ Teaspoons Fresh Tarragon, finely chopped
• 1 Clove Garlic, minced
• 1 Teaspoon Lemon Juice
• 1½ Teaspoons Freshly Ground Black Pepper
• 1 Pound Shrimp, peeled, deveined, without tails, rinsed and drained
• ¾ Cup Panko Breadcrumbs
• 2 Cloves Garlic, peeled and mashed with ¼ teaspoon Kosher Salt

Preparation Steps

Step 1. Preheat Oven to 425ºF.

Step 2. In a medium mixing bowl whisk together the wine, 2 tablespoons of the melted butter, ½ teaspoon of the chopped tarragon, the minced garlic clove, lemon juice and 1 teaspoon of the pepper. Pat the drained shrimp with paper towel to remove excess moisture and stir into the wine mixture. Let stand for 15 minutes.

Step 3. In a small mixing bowl combine the panko with the remaining 2 teaspoons of tarragon, the remaining ½ teaspoon of pepper and the mashed garlic cloves. Add the remaining 2 tablespoons of melted butter and stir until evenly distributed.

Step 4. Arrange the shrimp mixture in a single layer in a 1½ quart, (8”x10”) gratin baking dish. Evenly cover with the panko mixture and bake for 12 minutes.

Serve with steamed spinach topped with sliced almonds, Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper to taste.

Tips and Trending

~ There’s no guarantee that all of the alcohol will cook out of the shrimp – most will but not all. If you prefer to cook without wine, go ahead and substitute chicken stock.

~ If you choose to substitute dried tarragon for fresh, use ¼ teaspoon in the wine mixture and 1 teaspoon in the panko.

~ For the sake of convenience you can use frozen shrimp already peeled, deveined and without tails. Defrost any frozen shrimp in a large mesh strainer or colander under cold running water for 5 minutes. Let them drain in the strainer and continue as in the recipe.

~ The best way to cook freshly washed spinach is to shake the water from the leaves and put the spinach in a pot large enough to hold the amount you are preparing. Cover and cook over medium-low heat until just wilted. Remove from heat, gently toss and leave the lid off the pot for 2 minutes, then serve immediately. Use no additional water, the water that clings to the leaves is all that is needed and you will never again have soggy spinach.

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