Believe it or not, there are actually a few side benefits to the economic collapse. First, there's more parking at the malls. Second, fewer and shorter lines at the cash registers. But the biggest benefit has to be that fewer and fewer companies are hosting the dreaded "Holiday Party".
You know that lovely winter tradition that we all slog through. Co-workers spending hours chatting in false conviviality with the same people they were arguing with earlier in the day. Spouses, death-gripped drink in hand, wearing suits or gowns last seen in the '60s, stand tethered to their mates, pretending to get inside jokes that aren't even funny to the people involved.
These nights quickly devolve into little more than gossip sessions; who's doing what to whom, who's sucking up to the boss, who's drinking a little too much, all capped off with a meal that if it were served at a wedding reception we'd verbally thrash the hosts. Pick a little, talk a little, peck, peck, peck.
I know, I know. Bah, Humbug! But face it, the name of the site is CrabbyCook not Chuckles the Chef.
So let's assume you went to the event. Let's also assume that the food was lousy. You're home and hungry, what's a Crab to do? Well, 25 minutes and some basic ingredients and you're eating like a King Crab. I'll admit, you'll need to plan ahead to have these fixings ready, but you know when the party's coming, so really there's no excuse not to enjoy...
Penne with Shrimp and Herbed Cream Sauce
by Giada DeLaurentiis
1 pound penne pasta, (rigatoni or mostacolli work as well)
1/4 cup olive oil
1 pound raw, medium shrimp, peeled and deveined
4 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 (15 ounce) can whole tomatoes, drained and roughly chopped
1/2 cup chopped fresh basil
1/2 cup chopped fresh flat leaf parsley
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1 cup white wine
1/3 cup clam juice
3/4 cup heavy whipping cream
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the pasta and cook according to box instructions. Pasta should be tender but still firm to the bite. Drain pasta and set aside. Note: I start the pasta about the same time I start the sauce (a couple of paragraphs from now); the pasta is usually done right about the same time as the sauce.
In a large skillet, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Add the shrimp, garlic, salt and pepper.
Cook, stirring the shrimp frequently until they turn pink and are cooked through, approximately 3 minutes. DO NOT OVERCOOK THE SHRIMP!!! There is nothing worse than overcooked shrimp; you want the flesh pink with no gray spots, that's it! It will cook a little longer sitting in the sauce.
Remove the shrimp to a bowl and lightly tent with aluminum foil.
In the pan used to cook the shrimp, add the tomatoes, 1/4 cup basil, 1/4 cup parsley and the red pepper flakes. If you haven't already done it, add the pasta to the pot of boiling water.
Cook the tomatoes for 2 minutes, stirring constantly. Add the wine, clam juice and heavy cream. Bring the combined mixture to a boil, then reduce heat to medium low. Simmer the sauce for 7 - 8 minutes until it thickens slightly.
Add the Parmesan cheese to the sauce. Add the cooked shrimp and pasta to the pan. Toss well to fully combine. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
Serve. I sometimes add a cup of frozen peas to the dish just to punch up the green color quotient.
Alright crablings, that's a very quick and very easy meal to make, I'm thinking 25 minutes tops. You can shop or party all day and still come home and whip up a quick flavorful meal.