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RECIPE: Shrimp Spaghetti alla Camille

Shrimp stock is at the heart of this addictive spaghetti sauce. The stock is a great thing to have in your recipe bank year round, serving as the foundation for so many other delicious dishes (bisque, bouillabaisse, risotto, paella, gumbo, etc.). It would be a wonderful gift to make for your family’s maker this Mother’s Day…


(serves 4 - 6)

INGREDIENTS for a stunning shrimp stock

20 pcs “16/20” large shrimp, shell on

1  medium yellow onion, diced 

3  stalks celery, sliced into ½ inch pieces

3  bay leaves

Small bunch of thyme

1  tablespoon tomato paste

½ cup cognac

½ cup white wine

1  cup amontillado sherry* 

6  cups chicken stock

½ teaspoon kosher salt

2  tablespoons unsalted butter

2  tablespoons olive oil 

*If you can’t locate amontillado sherry, you can substitute madeira or dry vermouth

Special kitchen equipment 

immersion blender

fine mesh sieve


Step 1

Start by peeling and deveining 16 pieces of shrimp (do not discard the shells!), leaving the remaining four (4) whole shrimp aside for the time being. Put the shells in a separate bowl for our stock, and place the cleaned shrimp (16pcs) in the fridge for later cooking with the pasta. We’re going to sacrifice the four (4) whole, shell-on shrimp for the glory of this incredible stock, and so you must begrudgingly hack them with your knife into small, shell-on pieces, and then marry them with all the shrimp shells you’ve set aside in a bowl. 

Step 2

In a stockpot or large saucepan, heat the butter and olive oil over high heat. When the butter begins frothing, carefully add the shells and chopped up shrimp bits, moving them around vigorously from time to time (but not too often). Allow them to sit for a bit until they turn reddish/orange and become a bit “over fried” looking (that’s the best way I can describe it). Without knowing how hot your home burners get, it’s hard to precisely note how much time to let them sit in between stirring in order to achieve the desired caramelization; it should take longer than 30 seconds, but definitely no more than two (2) minutes, for them to develop some caramelization.

Step 3

Once you’re seeing some good frizzling all around the shells, add the thyme and bay leaves and stir vigorously to bloom the herbal aromatics. In other words, let them fry and crackle in the sizzling oil and butter for a few moments! Then, add the tomato paste and stir it into the whole mess of shells and herbs. Sauté for one more minute, or until the tomato paste begins to lightly caramelize on the bottom of the pan.

Step 4

Deglaze the pan with the cognac, white wine, and sherry, and simmer/reduce for 10 seconds, just long enough to cook out a little of the raw alcohol flavor. Add the chicken stock and salt, and bring to a gentle simmer for 20 minutes. (And yes, you’re correct if you’re thinking it’s unconventional to add salt to stock - for this particular stock I like to add a little to help extract the greatest amount of flavor from all the simmering shrimpy bits…) 

Step 5

After 20 minutes of light simmering, take an immersion blender to the pot and blitz all the shells and shrimp meat into a fine pulp. This helps release a ton of shrimp flavor into the liquid. Some of the herbs will also get pulverized - this is not a problem in any way! At this point, you add the onions and celery, and gently simmer for an additional 20 minutes. 

Step 6

Strain the stock through a fine mesh sieve and, using the back of a spoon, press all the ground shrimp and vegetables against the strainer to squeeze every last bit of life out of them. Return the strained stock to the pot and simmer/reduce (skimming occasionally) until you’re left with roughly three (3) cups of highly-concentrated, insanely-good shrimp broth.

INGREDIENTS for the finished dish

1 box (1# or 453g) spaghetti or spaghettini 

16 pcs cleaned shrimp (see step one of the stock prep above)

3 cups shrimp stock (see stock recipe above)

10-15 pieces ripe cherry tomatoes, halved

2 cups canned tomato puree 

3 medium garlic cloves, sliced

¼ teaspoon red chili flakes

1 tablespoon flat leaf parsley, finely chopped

1 cup flat leaf parsley, whole leaves

1/2 medium lemon, juiced (if the lemon isn’t super juicy, use juice from the whole thing)

6 tablespoons unsalted butter

Small splash of cognac, highly recommend

Good extra virgin olive oil, as needed

Kosher salt to taste

Special kitchen equipment:

12” Sauté pan with high sides

Bringing it all together…It’s important for you to have all these ingredients set up before you start cooking the pasta and the sauce in order to time it perfectly. The sauce only takes about five (5) minutes from start to finish. And the pasta will cook anywhere from 7-10 minutes, depending on which spaghetti/spaghettini brand you’re using. 


Step 1

Bring a large pot of water to a boil and salt it judiciously - just about until you can taste the salt, but not quite to the level of the ocean. The sauce itself will bring plenty of sea brine to the table, so be careful not to oversalt the pasta water. Meanwhile, get ready to make the sauce in a large, 12” wide sauté or frying pan (ideally, grab a high-sided pan to contain all the sauce and noodles). 

Step 2

Once the water is boiling, heat your sauté pan on high, hit it with a splash of olive oil and, once it’s very hot, add all the cleaned shrimp. Season with a sprinkle of salt to your taste but, again, be sure to not oversalt. Move the shrimp around in the pan until they turn “shrimp-colored” on all sides, roughly one (1) minute.

Step 3

Add a little more olive oil to the pan, and throw in the sliced garlic. Sauté until the garlic is fully extracted in the sizzling oil, roughly 30 seconds to a minute. At this point, it’s time to throw in the chopped parsley, chili flakes, and halved cherry tomatoes. Move everything around in the pan for 10-20 seconds, just to bloom the chili/herbs and extract some juice from the cherry tomatoes. Deglaze with stock and tomato puree and bring to a simmer.

Step 4

Add the butter and freshly-squeezed lemon juice to the sauce. Simmer and stir for another minute, or until all the butter has melted into the sauce. If this happens (as it should) before the pasta is finished boiling, turn the heat on very low to ensure the sauce does not reduce.

Step 5

Be sure to remove the spaghetti/spaghettini from the water while it is still very al dente, usually a couple minutes shy of the box instructions. And be sure to drain it well. This is a pasta sauce that does not require any pasta cooking water; in fact, it’s actually better without the addition of any pasta cooking water. Throw the well-drained noodles into the sauce, increase the heat, and simmer together for another minute, or until the sauce begins to slightly thicken and the noodles begin to blush. Add a splash of cognac (or don’t!), and transfer the entire pan to a high-sided casserole dish to serve family style or plate directly into individual pasta bowls - either way, it’s important for you to capture all the juice and make sure every last drop of sauce makes its way onto the pasta. Garnish with parsley leaves, and a generous glug of good olive oil.