My friends, what you are looking at here is the traditional feast of both Good Friday and Christmas Eve in my home, and a plate of deliciousness so difficult to describe I’ll simply let you drool….
Decadent yes – oh very much so. But simple, honest and true flavours, layers of which keep you diving back in for mouthful after scrummy mouthful – my husband has found himself in a self induced pasta coma more than once thanks to this one. The core ingredients of tiger prawns and huge scallops are pricey, but everything else in the recipe is not, and those expensive bits could easily be substituted for your choice of a different seafood – smaller prawns, white fish – I’ve even used chicken which is pretty damn good. I’m very fortunate to have a brilliant fishmonger close by who gets fresh catch in every day, in my opinion a splurge every now and again is worth it – hence it’s a twice a year special!
I came across this recipe at the start of my almost obsessive love of Ree Drummond – The Pioneer Woman and I happily take zero credit for it. If you haven’t yet discovered her please do, her story alone is worth investigating – she married a cowboy. A real life cowboy people! Her style of cooking is homely, exciting, comforting and absolutely resolutely uncompromising when it comes to flavour. And did I mentioned the cowboy?
Pasta wise I love to use fusilli lunghi as Ree herself does, the twirly bit is half the drama of the end result, but to be fair any long pasta would work well.
Ingredients – serves 2 generously (I have made for 6 people by upping quantities which worked perfectly well)
4 tiger prawns
4 – 6 scallops – depending on the size you can get
Large knob of butter
2 fat cloves garlic, grated
Chilli flakes, to taste
Small glass dry white wine
Tin chopped tomatoes – don’t scrimp here, an extra few pence on a quality product will make a difference
Squeeze tomato puree
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
200g fusilli lunghi or your choice of pasta
Small pot double cream
Big handful fresh basil finely shredded
Method – pre-heat oven to 180
Start with the seafood
- Take the shells off the prawns, I start by ripping the head off – remarkably satisfying – then use the legs as a starting point and kind of wind strips of the shell around and away from the body. It’s likely there will be a pretty significant intestinal track running down the back, simply use a small sharp knife to make a shallow incision from head to tail end and you’ll find it lifts away easily. Not a pleasant job but worth the effort
- If the orange roe is still attached to your scallops simple pull gently to remove it along with the small muscle, both will lift easily. The roe is a very much loved ingredient, I’m not a huge fan myself but understand it to be delicious pan fried for a moment in garlic butter and served on hot toast. I’m afraid it’s not for me so ends up in the bin.
- Heat butter and oil in a large frying pan until very hot, then seal the prawns on both sides until really brown and almost crusty, 30 seconds a side should do it, you don’t want them cooked all the way through.
- Same process with the scallops, watch them closely, you want a lovely crust but DO NOT want them fully cooked.
- Put the seafood to one side.
- In the seafood pan add a little more oil and butter and cook the garlic over a medium heat for a minute, don’t let it colour.
- Add the wine and bubble for a couple of minutes.
- Add the tomatoes, chilli flakes, puree, salt and pepper and simmer gently for around 10 minutes, if it seems to be thickening a bit too much add a splash more wine or some water if you prefer.
- Cook the pasta in a large pan of boiling water until almost done, a bit less than al dente is perfect. Drain.
- In a large baking dish, layer a couple of sheets of tin foil overlapping, they need to be large enough to create a parcel, then another sheet on the bottom of the dish to create a base.
- Tip in the pasta, pour the sauce over the top and mix gently, then nestle the browned seafood in the pasta. Wrap carefully making sure you make it as air tight as possible and don’t puncture the parcel.
- Put the dish in the oven for 10 – 15 mins.
- While it’s cooking, heat the double cream in a small saucepan until scalding but not boiling.
- After cooking time, take dish out of oven, carefully unwrap the top of the foil (steam will be super hot when it escapes so caution), pour over the double cream, scatter basil over and a quick bit of black pepper.
- Prepare yourself for utter gorgeousness, seriously – you must try this one!