This recipe is also excellent with oysters, scallops, or even crawfish. (If you like smoked oysters, try it substituting 2 dozen oysters for the shrimp; the fresh oysters stay nice and plump, and the dish gets its smoky flavor from the tasso.)

If you can't get tasso, you can substitute a cured smoked ham, but it really won't be the same.

Pour the cream into a large heavy skillet and place over medium heat. Stir the cream when it begins to rise to keep it from overflowing; when it comes to a boil, add the tasso, salt, peppers and herbs and let simmer for 8-10 minutes. The cream sauce should be fairly thick, especially if you're using oysters (the liquid from the oysters will thin it out). You can prepare the sauce ahead to this point.

Bring a large pot of salted water to a rolling boil and drop in the pasta. Cook until just al dente. Meanwhile, return the sauce to a simmer, stir in the shrimp (or oysters, scallops, crawfish, etc.), green onions and parsley and cook until the shrimp turn pink (or until the oysters curl around the edges), about 3-4 minutes. Drain the pasta and divide among bowls. Ladle the sauce over and toss; serve with freshly grated Parmesan cheese. Serves 4-6.


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Chuck Taggart   (e-mail chuck)