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.
- 1 pound shrimp, peeled and deveined, OR
- 1 pound crawfish tails, OR
- 1 pound scallops, OR
- 2 dozen fresh shucked oysters
- 1/2 pound tasso, cut in 1/4 inch dice
- 1 pint heavy cream
- 3/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 1/4 teaspoon white pepper
- 2 teaspoons fresh basil, or 1/2 teaspoon dried basil leaves
- 2 teaspoons fresh thyme, or 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme leaves
- 1 pound spaghetti, fresh if possible
- 1/2 cup green onions, chopped
- 1/2 cup parsley, chopped
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)