This is a recipe was actually inspired by a dish I didn't make: "Portuguese-style pork and clams with chorizo and fried potatoes" from the exquisite Sunday Suppers at Lucques cookbook that I checked out of the library. It's a cookbook that really makes me understand the expression food porn: it's under my side of the bed, and before I go to sleep, I look at the photographs in a drooling stupor of fantasy, thinking about the actual dinner I've eaten the way maybe some people think about their regular old non-centerfold wives. Sigh.
And I could make that dish--I could. Clams are relatively inexpensive, and I love them. And Ben loves clams. And Birdy, well, Birdy is Birdy when it comes to any chicken-of-the-sea type of situation, so clams and shrimp--it's all the same yuck to her. But Michael is allergic to clams. Or was. Or is still kind of. And only because somebody so rudely mentioned that a recipe column may not be the best place to tell my endless stories about barf (What the?) will I spare you the details. Of the two incidents. One which involved Michael not singing his rightful half of a West Side Story duet in the car ("Honey, honey, this is you! Tonight, tonight. . . Wait, are you okay?. . . . Oh. . . . yikes. . . . ") and the other which involved baby Birdy in the Bjorn. With Michael and his clam poisoning. Enough said.
So these shrimp were my response to all that clammy lukewarmness, and man--as compromises go, this is as good as it gets. So good, in fact, that I ended up making them, and then making them again five days letter: both times we licked the platter clean. With the smoky paprika and the sherry vinegar, you'll feel like you're eating tapas on the coast of Spain (or so I imagine, having never eaten tapas on the coast of Spain). And you have to serve the shrimp with lots of crusty bread for mopping up all of the lovely, ruddy, garlicky oil (and so that crustacean-haters like Birdy can eat just the bread and oil for dinner: Hello, unbalanced meal! "Pretend the shrimp are sea monkeys!" I said. No, just kidding. I would never.) I could eat them again this second, and if shrimp weren't on the pricier end of our food budget, I would. (Alas, tonight's more of a lentil night. Not that I don't love lentils.)
But I actually think that this exact recipe would be really good with clams subbed in for the shrimp, and Michael swears he's ready to try again. I promise I won't tell you how it goes.
Smoky Shrimp with Garlic and Olive Oil
Serves 4 for dinner (as long as one of those four people is a child who won't eat it)
Active time: 10 minutes; total time: 25 minutes
I really, really recommend using the ingredients below. Sherry vinegar is just so incredibly smooth and deep--you will love it here, and on a salad with walnuts, and drizzled onto a dish of lentil soup. . . And the smoked paprika, well, you know how I feel about it. And the masses of garlic. Do take the time to salt the shrimp beforehand: it seasons them beautifully and also firms them up a bit, which I find a more appealing texture. Serve this with lots of crusty bread for sopping up the sauce.
1 pound medium shrimp, peeled and deveined (thaw frozen shrimp by running cold water over them in a colander for five or so minutes; I use frozen "Whole Catch" peeled, tail-on raw shrimp)
2 teaspoons kosher salt (or half as much table salt)
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons chopped garlic (5 or 6 large cloves)
1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
1 teaspoon sherry vinegar (Vinegar! Not the same as sherry or cooking sherry!)
Chopped flat-leaf parsley
Sprinkle the shrimp with the salt and set aside for 10 or 15 minutes.
In a wide skillet over medium heat, heat the olive oil over medium heat until very hot but not smoking. Add all the shrimp to the pan in a single layer (more or less) and sprinkle the garlic over it. Cook for a minute, then sprinkle in the paprika and cook, stirring, until the shrimp are pink and cooked through--around three minutes altogether. Turn off the heat, stir in the sherry vinegar and sprinkle on the parsley, and serve. Sprinklingly.