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swirl and savor

Bucatini Arrabiata with Fresh Gulf Shrimp

Beth Ribblett

Our trips to the beach with our friends R&T always involve shared cooking responsibilities with each couple taking their turns at creating fabulous meals. After a day on the beach, we all look forward to our evening cocktail hour (or two...) while one pair relaxes and the other takes over the kitchen and we all chat and gossip, trying not to delve into anything too serious. We all marvel at the incredible food we eat on these trips and how lucky we are to share this time together. I usually don't want to work too much while we are there, but I did do a better job at documenting what we ate and how we prepared things so this week I will share our main meal, Kerry's Zucchini Salad and next week R's.

I knew I wanted to cook something with 2 of my favorite ingredients, fresh gulf shrimp and, of course, pasta. There's a great little family owned seafood place on highway 180 heading to Fort Morgan called Fresh Market Seafood that we buy our shrimp and fish at every time we come so we picked up a few pounds of shrimp and got to work.

I'd been thinking about this dish for awhile as we've had a big package of bucatini in the pantry for a few weeks just waiting for the right opportunity to use it. Bucatini is one of my favorite dried pastas as I love the texture and way it really soaks up the sauce. It is popular in southern Italy especially in Lazio where the famous Roman dish, Bucatini alla Matriciana, originated. My version of the Roman classic, which mixes the pasta with a light sauce of tomato, pancetta and red pepper flakes, is the base for this recipe with the fresh shrimp adding a Gulf coast twist.

As for the wine we drank, I needed another excuse to open up a bottle of the 2007 Pietradolce Etna Rosso which went wonderfully with the meal.

Serves 4-6

1 pound of Bucatini
1/4 pound of pancetta sliced in 1" pieces
1/4 c. white wine
2 lbs head on, fresh gulf shrimp
Medium shallot, diced
3 cloves of minced garlic
1 (28) ounce can of whole San Marzano plum tomatoes, diced
3 tablespoon of olive oil
Torn fresh basil leaves
1/2 t. pepperoncini (hot pepper flakes)
Bread crumbs (if needed to thicken sauce)
Grated fresh Pecorino


Fill a 10-quart saucepan with water over high heat for the pasta. Add the pasta during the last 10 minutes of the preparation process to the boiling water.

Prep shrimp by peeling, leave on tails, removing the heads and deveining, rinse and pat dry.

Pre-heat a saucepan to medium heat with 1 T. of olive oil. Add the pancetta and sauté until the bacon is browned but not crispy (3-4 minutes). Quickly add the shrimp and the wine and saute for a minute or two, just until shrimp begin to turn pink. Do not fully cook them at this time.

Use a slotted spoon to remove the bacon and shrimp and set aside on a plate. Add the a little more oil to the pan, heat and then add the onion and garlic and lightly fry for a few minutes until translucent. Add the tomatoes, basil, and hot pepper flakes and simmer an additional 10 minutes. Add in the shrimp and pancetta and simmer for a few more minutes, but be careful not to overcook the shrimp.

Combine the al dente pasta with the saucepan ingredients and simmer for a few more minutes, adding a little bread crumbs if you need to thicken the sauce. Transfer the completed dish to a large serving bowl. Top with pecorino cheese.

Tutti a tavola a mangiare!