This dinner is ready in as much time as it takes to cook rice. It has five ingredients, and is totally un-nutritious. It's also luxurious and subtle, and takes very little effort. The secret? Heavy cream, for one—but also a little thing called pastis, an anise-flavored liqueur that stood in for absinthe while it was still illegal. It's an obscure ingredient, I'll admit, and not everyone has it banging around in their cabinet. But allow me to recommend that you consider buying a bottle, if only because it's integral to the Sazerac cocktail, one of my favorite drinks in the world. And because it will probably outlive you.
The recipe comes from Pierre Franey's classic cookbook The New York Times 60-Minute Gourmet. So this is what passed for gourmet in 1979: bring on the heavy cream. Not that I'm complaining—the cover on my old copy promises "gourmet recipes and menus that reach absolute perfection in a matter of minutes," and that's exactly what happened to me. The taste was familiar, because the pastis flavor is similar to tarragon, an herb commonly used in French cream sauces. In fact, if you really don't want to invest in a bottle, a little fresh tarragon thrown in with the shallots might work just as well.
- 1 1/2 pounds shrimp, shelled, deveined, and rinsed
- 3 tablespoons butter
- 2 tablespoons finely chopped shallots
- 2 tablespoons pastis (Pernod, Ricard, or other anise-flavored liqueur)
- 3/4 cup heavy cream
- 1 cup rice
- Salt and pepper
In a sauté pan, heat the butter over medium-high heat until the foam subsides, then add the shrimp and shallots and cook rapidly for 3-5 minutes, toss continually, until the shrimp are pink all over and almost cooked through. Add the pastis and cook for an additional minute.
Remove the shrimp with a slotted spoon, leaving behind as much liquid as possible, and reserve in a warm place. Add the heavy cream, a pinch and salt and pepper (to taste), and cook for 3-4 minutes, stirring well.
Return the shrimp to the pan and cook until just warmed through. Serve with rice.