Shrimp Amando (fettucine alfredo . . . sort of)
According to Wikipedia, fettucine alfredo was named after some dude’s restaurant in which he invented the famous dish. So “alfredo” is not like “lasagna al forno,” which has a very functional meaning (lasagna from the oven – meaning the noodles are both boiled and cooked). To me, this means I can rename it if I want to. Particularly if I tweak the dish enough that it tastes a lot like alfredo but also sort of tastes like a different dish.
And thus we have the “Shrimp Amando” – named after me. Because I can. Whatever, men name stuff after themselves all the time – buildings, babies, vast empires. And who cares about Alfred?
Mmm . . . look how yummy all that shrimp looks, getting itself all sauteed in butter and olive oil and garlic and leeks. Yes, leeks. Leeks in Alfredo? No, you say, it can’t be done!! Yes it can, if I rename the dish after myself, I can do whatever I dang well please.
The leeks, though, really, they are optional. You should be aware that they add a light, oniony (but not too onion-y) flavor to the alfredo. So it won’t just taste like pure cream and cheese. To some people, like the beloved carnivore, this probably sounds like blasphemy. To me, adding a bit of complexity to the old-standy cream & cheese combo is a great way to spice up a boring, work-filled weekend. Most importantly, I think it tastes pretty good.
Fettucine Alfredo (or Amando) with Shrimp
Adapted from so many sources and then tweaked so much that I think this qualifies as an original
- 1 lb fettucine
- 1 lb shrimp, peeled and deveined
- 1 to 1 1/2 cups heavy cream
- 1/2 cup to 1 cup milk (depending on how much heavy cream you have/use – you want a little more than 2 cups of liquid total)
- 1 1/2 cups to 2 cups finely grated Romano cheese (so finely grated it’s powder-y – differently grated cheese will not work nearly as well)
- 3 TBSP butter, divided
- 1 TBSP olive oil
- 1 large leek or 2 small leeks
- 4 medium cloves garlic
- juice of one lemon
- pinch of nutmeg
- salt and pepper to taste
First, get your mise en place ready. Cut the gross end and the very green leafy parts off of the leeks, chop them in half, and clean them well under running water until you get all the grainy dirt stuff out. Chop the leeks and set aside. Juice your lemon – maybe with your awesome new juicer that you ordered from Amazon and can’t wait to use (if you’re me). Peel and chop the garlic – chop it finely but don’t mince it. Finally, get your seasonings ready and set them near the stove. As the photo below demonstrates, I use Spice Islands medium grind pepper. I’m a devotee, and I pretty much detest almost any other type of pre-ground pepper. Also, I’m running low – here’s the part that’s aimed at my dad. Dad, if that whole putting Spice Islands pepper in my stocking thing could please be a new tradition, I’d appreciate it. . . Thanks!!!
Now, get your pasta water boiling in some salted water while you ready the vegetables and shrimp. As an aside, here’s a hot tip from a Cooks Illustrated recipe which I read a long time ago. This is a good tip if you’re serving this dish to many people, particularly in a dinner party setting where you want to impress people and not serve them alfredo (or amando) that’s already congealed. Put a lot more water to boil than you need for the pasta and then, once it’s boiling, put a ladle full of water into each bowl (or multiple ladles-full if it’s a large serving bowl). Set the bowls aside and dump out the water just before putting in the pasta. The warmth of the bowl will prevent the pasta from congealing quickly. And that, my friends, is why I love Cooks Illustrated.
Put the olive oil and one tablespoon of the butter into a large sautee pan over medium heat. Once the butter has started to melt, throw in the chopped garlic and sautee until fragrant and somewhat softened but not browned (about one or two minutes). Add the leeks and sautee until softened, about four to five minutes. Add the peeled and deveined shrimp and sautee just until all of the shrimp is pink, a few minutes. Remove the shrimp from the pan and place into a medium mixing bowl – you can by fastidious and remove the shrimp with tongs or just pour it into the mixing bowl, but try to leave as much of the butter/olive oil/leeks/garlic mixture in the pan as possible. Don’t bother turning the burner off, but turn it down a bit if it takes you a while to measure milk and cream into a measuring cup.
While the shrimp is sauteeing, check on your pasta. It should be almost al dente now – you want to stop boiling the pasta when it’s just shy of al dente, as it will cook more in the sauce. Drain it, but reserve 1 cup of the pasta water in case you need to thin the sauce later.
Get out your measuring cup and pour in as much of the cream as you want/have. Then add enough milk to make the milk/cream mixture hit a little bit above the 2 cups mark. Pour about 1 cup of this mixture into the saucepan with the garlic and leeks. Add the remaining two tablespoons of butter and stir over medium heat just until the butter has melted.
Throw in the drained pasta – if your sautee pan is not big enough for this, pour the cream mixture back into the empty pasta pot and then add the pasta. Stir for a minute over medium heat until it’s all nice and mixed. Add in the shrimp, cheese, nutmeg, lemon juice, salt and pepper (to taste), and the rest of the cream. Stir for another minute or two until all of the shrimp is well-coated with the sauce.
No, I don’t always remember to manicure my bowls and remove all evidence that actual food might get on the sides of the bowls. This is not a food photography blog, get over it. And defensiveness over. . .
Pasta will thicken as it sits and is served, so don’t worry if it looks a bit thin. If it thickens too much before you reach for seconds, add in the reserved pasta water.
A tip on leftovers, if you’re like me and sometimes have a hankering for shrimp alfredo/amando on a night when you’re not having 7 other people over to eat. All that stuff people tell you about how alfredo doesn’t reheat well? LIES. Well, totally true, if you don’t know about one simple trick. Just reheat your leftover alfredo on the stovetop over low heat, adding in a tablespoon or two of milk for each serving of alfredo. The congealed mess you pull out of your fridge will magically return to its original creamy glory.