The Devil's Brother Went Down to Texas
Traditional Shrimp Fra Diavolo is a garlicky, slightly spicy Italian-American dish made with shrimp and served over pasta. “Fra Diavolo” literally translates to “brother devil” from Italian. Our version of this dish is made with sweet Gulf shrimp and has an extra kick of heat. Sit down in your chair, right there, and let me show you how it’s done.*
Texas-Style Shrimp Fra Diavolo
This recipe is inspired by a recipe for Shrimp Fra Diavolo published by America’s Test Kitchen; however, our version has been adapted substantially. Our recipe calls for an additional 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes and 3 cloves of garlic. We also add an additional 14 ounces of diced tomatoes, and reduce the amount of pasta to 3/4 pound from 1 pound, as we found the ratio suggested by the America’s Test Kitchen to have too little sauce with a lot of pasta remaining. We also top our dish with shaved Parmesan.
1 pound large shrimp, preferably fresh Gulf shrimp, peeled and deveined
1 1/2 teaspoons red pepper flakes
6 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 cup brandy or cognac (We prefer to use Raynal French brandy.)
1 medium head of garlic, peeled and minced, approximately 12 - 15 cloves
1/2 teaspoon sugar
42 ounces of diced tomatoes, drained
1 cup Sauvignon Blanc, or other dry white wine
1/4 cup fresh parsley leaves, minced (preferably Italian flat leaf)
1 1/2 teaspoons salt, plus 1 tablespoon when boiling pasta (preferably coarse sea salt)
3/4 pound linguine (preferably whole wheat)
1/2 cup freshly shaved Parmesan cheese, for serving
Bring 4 quarts water to a rolling boil in a large pot.
Meanwhile, heat a heavy-bottomed 12-inch skillet over high heat until the pan is very hot. Toss the shrimp, 1 teaspoon of the red pepper flakes, 2 tablespoons of olive oil, and 3/4 teaspoon salt.
Add the shrimp mixture to the heated skillet and quickly spread out in a single layer. Cook until the bottoms of the shrimp turn spotty brown, approximately 30 to 45 seconds.
Off the heat, stir to turn the shrimp, then add the brandy. Let stand off the heat until the brandy warms slightly, about 5 seconds, then return the pan to high heat. Wave a lit match over the skillet until the brandy ignites.
Shake the skillet until the flames subside, then transfer the shrimp to a medium bowl and set aside.
Off the heat, cool the now-empty skillet for 2 minutes. Return the skillet to the burner and reduce the heat to low. Add 3 tablespoons of the olive oil and 3 tablespoons of the garlic. Cook, stirring constantly, until the garlic foams and is sticky and straw-colored, approximately 7 to 10 minutes.
Add the remaining 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes, 3/4 teaspoon salt, sugar, tomatoes, and wine. Increase the heat to medium-high and simmer until thickened and fragrant, about 8 minutes.
While the sauce simmers, add the linguine and 1 tablespoon salt to the boiling water and stir to separate the noodles. Cook until al dente. Reserve 1/3 cup of the pasta cooking water and drain the pasta.
Return the pasta to the pot, add about 1/2 cup sauce and 2 to 3 tablespoons of the reserved pasta cooking water, and toss to coat.
Stir the reserved shrimp and accumulated juices, remaining garlic, and the parsley into the sauce and simmer until the shrimp are heated through, about 1 minute longer. Off the heat, stir in the remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil.
Divide the pasta, top with a generous portion of the sauce and shrimp, sprinkle with fresh Parmesan, and serve immediately.
Texas-Style Shrimp Fra Diavolo served over whole-wheat linguine
*Lyrics sung by Mr. Charlie Daniels.