Thursday, April 7, 2011


I'm a semi-observant Catholic, and I cook.

Meat prices are rising and going to continue to rise. Personally I blame corn ethanol. All that corn that used to make tortillas, cornbread, and bacon (it's the main feedstock for cattle, hogs, and even dogs and cats and if you don't believe me look real closely at the ingredients panel on your big bag of Purina Large Animal of Your Choice Food). Instead it's being turned into whiskey and burned in cars and trucks. (End of ride on that particular hobbyhorse)

But you know what's cheap? Seafood! (Yay!)

Me, I'm lucky to live on God's own Texas Gulf Coast, but the price of shrimp, scallops, and all sorts of fish has been decreasing in inflation adjusted dollars. Fish farming is growing like a venereal wart, especially in small countries that don't use a real alphabet.

So in the spirit of Lenten observances and good food, lessus have some SEAFOOD!

Here's one, free and for nothing, Shrimp Dra Diavlo sort-of-thing:

Ingredients: Read the damn thing. I'm not real big on units when cooking, other than for baking, and I don't do that anymore. This is a recipe for 2.

Sautee in a big skillet at medium high sort of heat a big handfull of onions and peppers. I tend to get the "3 Pepper and Onion Blend" from the local grocery, and use about 1/2 a bag

Add a half of a mess of garlic. We've got sriracha coming in later, (If you don't know, sriracha is a wicked Asia blend of garlic and hot peppers. Comes in a convenient squeeze bottle, Has printing on the front of the plastic bottle, in green. Has a rooster on it. Some folks call it "rooster sauce") I get the quart jars of minced garlic 'cause I'm lazy. I've spent too much time in restaurant kitchens "re-chopping" garlic that some minion thought was good enough. When you start to smell the garlic,

Add about a pound of cleaned shrimp. That means heads, shells, tails, all that stuff OFF. This is gonna be good, and you won't wanna have to fuck around with "some assembly required" when it hits the table. This would be a good time to add some basil - maybe a teaspoon - and some oregano (if you really have too, use just a little bit, and this is only if you insist on calling it an Italian dish)

When the shrimp are almost done dump in about half of a can of crushed tomatoes. The standard can size for crushed tomatoes is 28 - 30 ounce, so dump the remains into a nice jar or something so you can use it the next day. Now here's the great part. Sriracha! Blurt forth a reasonable amount, stir it in and wait for it to bubble.

Pour it over pasta or rice. You did read this through before starting, didn't you?

Over pasta you've got the EyeTalian classic Fra Diavlo, over rice you have Camerones Enchilados.

Protip: add some cooked chopped BACON at the same time as the shrimp.

Super Protip: Buy bacon ends and pieces in the 3 pound box. Cook in massive quantities, chop, and store. Some kitchen professionals like to keep "just a pinch between the cheek and gum" (as the sainted Earl Campbell used to say in the Copenhagen ads). Cutx down on nicotine fits in the high stress work of running a restaurant kitchen. Seriously. I mean it. And keep most of it in the freezer, because, let's face it dude, that much bacon, cooked and on hand?

Super extra special protip. You do a pot count on this? Do the rice or pasta in advance, and you've only got 1. count it, one, skillet to wash. Get rid of the shrimp hulls and rinse the pan and dishes, unless you want the kitchen to smell that way in the morning. It's not too much to ask. And she's worth it.

Let's break it down:
Plant matter (1/2 bag pepper & onion mix) = 0.50
Shrimp (1 pound @ about $5/lb) = 5.00
Pasta or rice = 0.65
ATW (restaurant shorthand for "all the
way" - salad, side, french bread) add another =4.00
Total: =10.15

Compare and contrast with same at decent Eye-Tie Bistro or Spanish place at about $20 per person for the same meal.

Do it at home, impress the girlfriend, spend ome of the saved cash on an upgrade on the bottle of plonk.

You go, Tiger, now show her how good you are out of the kitchen. Maybe you could be nice and let HER cook breakfast.

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