Serves 4 to 6
In my early restaurant days in Queens, 1971 to 1981, shrimp scampi was a major selling item on the menu, and we usually served it with some risotto, or with broccoli sautéed with garlic and oil. “Shrimp scampi” was the name, but it is redundant, because shrimp and scampi are both species of shrimp. Shrimp scampi has significance for the early immigrants, because in Italy scampi, the spiny langouste varietal, was prepared in this fashion. In the United States, shrimp are available, not scampi, so the early immigrants prepared the shrimp they found in the scampi style they remembered.
- 3 shallots, peeled and chopped (about ½ cup)
- 7 garlic cloves, crushed and peeled
- ¾ cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 pounds extra-large or jumbo shrimp, peeled and deveined
- 4 sprigs fresh thyme
- 2 ½ teaspoons kosher salt
- 2 cups dry white wine
- 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 6 tablespoons unsalted butter
- ½ cup chopped fresh Italian parsley
- 1 tablespoon dry bread crumbs, if needed
Combine the shallots, five garlic cloves, and 2 tablespoons of the oil in a mini-food processor and process to make a smooth paste.
Pour 6 tablespoons olive oil and the remaining garlic into a large skillet over medium-high heat. Let the garlic sizzle for a minute, then add half of the shrimp and all of the thyme sprigs. Season with ½ teaspoon salt, and cook until the shrimp are seared but not fully cooked, about 1 to 2 minutes.
Remove to a plate and repeat with the remaining shrimp and another ½ teaspoon salt. Remove the shrimp and thyme from the skillet to the plate. Add the remaining 4 tablespoons olive oil and the garlic-shallot paste to the same skillet set over medium heat. Cook, stirring constantly, until the paste has dried out and begins to stick to the bottom of the skillet, about 2 to 3 minutes. Return the thyme to the skillet, and pour in the white wine, lemon juice, the remaining 1 ½ teaspoons salt, 4 tablespoons of the butter, and 1 cup water.
Bring the sauce to a rapid boil, and cook until reduced by half, about 4 to 5 minutes. When the sauce has reduced, whisk in the remaining butter and return the shrimp to the pan. Cook and toss until the shrimp are coated with the sauce and just cooked through, about 2 to 3 minutes. Stir in the parsley. If the sauce still seems too thin, stir in the bread crumbs and bring to a boil just to thicken.