Quick Chick & Shrimp

Several days ago, as I was driving home after an arduous, long day of work, I wondered what I should do for dinner.  It was just going to be my wife and I for dinner.   I started to think about fish.  And then, I thought about shrimp, and then I realized that what I was wanting was something akin to the classic British, “fish and chips”.  Then I thought about mac and cheese, and how that mac and cheese goes so well with fried shrimp, or fried fish.  And then, I realized I didn’t have any fish.  Chicken.  Yes, chicken, instead of fish.  The synapses in my brain jump around in quirky ways like that most of the time.  I really enjoy my drives home, except when I find myself driving next to people texting on their cell phones!

I allowed myself an hour to prepare the meal.  Time at home is precious for me during this busy part of the year.  I typically have about 4 to 5 hours after I get home to prepare a meal, eat it and digest it before I trot off to bed.   

Mac and cheese…check.  Chicken and shrimp…a quick prep and fry…check.  Steamed broccoli…a few minutes in the microwave…check.

The most time consuming part of the meal was the mac and cheese.  The rest was a flurry of flour and cornmeal and chopping a few things.  Easy.

I made enough mac and cheese for six people and I made enough chicken and shrimp for two or three.

My son and his girlfriend joined us, just as we were cleaning up after dinner.  We had enough chicken and shrimp left to share and plenty of mac and cheese.  It was all gone in a matter of a few minutes.  Mac and cheese saved the day…Perfect!

Ingredients:

1 ½ cup fresh broccoli

½ cup cooking oil

2 medium sized chicken breasts, thinly sliced

10 raw jumbo shrimp, peeled and deveined

1 1/2 cup flour

1/3 cup cornmeal

2 eggs

1 tsp garlic powder

½ tsp cayenne pepper

Directions:

Cut the broccoli into large, bite-sized pieces.  Place in a microwave safe bowl.  Seal with plastic wrap and set aside.

Cut chicken into 3” to 4” pieces. 

Butterfly cut the shrimp.  I do a back butterfly, cutting into the backside, instead of the underside.  Set aside.

Heat the oil in a skillet at medium/high heat.

Pour the flour onto a plate.  Dredge the chicken in flour, egg and then flour again.  Drop chicken in pan and pan fry to golden brown, remove to a paper towel lined plate.  Keep warm.

Add the cornmeal to the remaining flour and mix with a fork.

Dredge the shrimp in flour and cornmeal mixture, egg and then flour and cornmeal mixture again.  Drop the shrimp into the hot oil and cook for about 1 minute, or until the shrimp begins to brown and feels firm to the touch.

Lay the shrimp on the paper towel lined plate, along with the chicken, and keep warm.

Put the covered broccoli in the microwave and cook for about 2 minutes, or until the broccoli has softened. Serve with mac and cheese and ketchup or spicy ketchup. 

Shrimp with Creamy Garlic Butter and Pasta

This dish is a bit like Shrimp Scampi but, not so bold and intense in flavor.  The creaminess, provided by the half-and-half, along with the pasta turns a wild Shrimp Scampi into something gentle and soothing.

Ingredients:

4 Tbs unsalted butter

1 Tbs olive oil

1 tsp coarse salt

1 tsp red chili flakes

4 garlic cloves

1 lb large, raw shrimp, deveined and peeled

2 green onions

¼ cup fresh basil

Juice of 1/2 lemon

½ cup shredded Parmesan cheese

½ cup half-and-half

12 oz dry pasta (I used Farfalle – butterfly pasta)

Ingredients for the sauce thickener:

1 Tbs softened butter

1 Tbs flour

Ingredients for the garnish:

½ cup diced tomatoes

2 root ends of green onions

1 Tbs olive oil

1 tsp vinegar

½ tsp oregano

¼ tsp garlic powder

Directions:

You should prepare all of the ingredients in advance.  Shrimp cooks very quickly and you want to have all of the other ingredients ready when you need them.

Boil the pasta to al dente.  Normally I would use lots of water but this time, I wanted the noodles to keep some of their starchiness so that the sauce would cling to it better.

While the pasta cooks…

Pulverize coarse salt and red chili flakes in a mortar and pestle.  Set aside.

Chop the garlic and slice the green onions.  Reserve the root portions of the green onions.  Set aside.

Prepare the sauce thickener by blending the flour with the softened butter.  I like to use a fork for blending.  Set aside until needed.

Prepare the garnish by dicing the tomato and roots of the green onion.

Drain the pasta but do not rinse.  Set aside.

Strain the garnish to remove the olive oil and vinegar.  Set the garnish aside.

Rinse the shrimp under cold water and remove the shells. 

In a large skillet, add 4 tablespoons of butter and 1 tablespoon of olive oil.  Simmer at low heat. 

Add the garlic and crushed salt and red chili flakes.  Simmer at low heat for about two minutes.  This will allow the garlic to mellow a little. 

Add the shrimp to the pan.  Turn the heat to low/medium. 

Stir the shrimp until they turn from translucent to slightly pink.

Add the green onion, basil and lemon juice to the pan and stir for about a half minute.

Add the sauce thickener and mix with the buttery sauce.  It should thicken within a minute or so. Add the half-and-half and stir. 

Add the Parmesan cheese.

Turn the heat off and add the pasta.  Stir a few times and remove to a serving bowl.

Top with the tomato and onion garnish.