November 13, 2012

Shrimp with Garlic, Chilies and Mint over Pancetta Radicchio

Shrimp with Garlic, Chilies and Mint over Pancetta Radicchio

This weekend, being strapped for cash and in saving mode for upcoming Christmas shopping, I tried to spend little to no money.  This means I was draped on the couch all day Saturday watching cooking shows and reading library books.  For lunch I made a sandwich with all the leftovers in the fridge; pan seared pork, wilted radicchio, candied yams, smoked gouda and arugula.  But what I thought might be a wildly inventive sandwich ended up tasting like something out of a dumpster.  

Shrimp with Garlic, Chilies and Mint over Pancetta RadicchioOn Sunday I window shopped through Brooklyn in my lazy pants which made me feel double bad, not only could I not buy anything, but I also looked slightly homeless.  A gorgeous jacket lured me into one clothing boutique only to mock me with its $1,200 price tag.  It was an Isabelle Marant.  I had to do the “I can’t even afford the socks in this store” walk of shame.  I browsed quickly and slipped out the door when the shop girl wasn‘t looking.  Clothing shops should have a price-range warning out front, just like those health code grades in the windows of restaurants, or maybe just a sign saying “Um, keep walking”.  My next stop at Film Biz Recycling, a used movie prop shop, brightened my spirits a bit.   I walked away with nothing but had fun looking at their collections of street signs, monster heads, mannequins and vintage furniture.  There were no bad feelings over not being able to afford a disco ball the size of myself.

Shrimp with Garlic, Chilies and Mint over Pancetta Radicchio

Great food is a luxury I feel I can always afford.  Last week, some frozen shrimp in my freezer had me searching for exciting shrimp recipes online.  Enter Mario Batali’s Scampi with Garlic, Chilies and  Nepitella.  I rushed home after work to try it out along with his recipe for Radicchio sautéed with pancetta.  I took a bite of everything; the bitter dark purple radicchio glistening with pancetta fat, the sweet pink shrimp, the softened slivers of jalapeno, golden garlic and punches of mint.  I swear a white table cloth, a candle and a fat bill appeared.  No, I wasn’t at an upscale restaurant, I was right at home, eating off of an Ikea bowl on an Ikea coffee table in front of the TV with bare feet.  I never knew I could achieve flavors like that in my own home, but somehow mint always adds that unexpected wow factor.  

Shrimp with Garlic, Chilies and Mint over Pancetta Radicchio

I want you to experience the same flavors in your home, so here’s how to do it.  But first a note; whenever you’re adding wine to a hot pan, never pour it straight from the bottle since flames can shoot from the burner to the bottle causing it to explode.  Always pour the required amount of wine into a measuring cup or other container before adding it to your pan.  Ok, here you go…

(Adapted from Mario Batali’s Scampi with Garlic, Chilies and  Nepitella)

Makes 1 serving

To make the radicchio:

2 ounces pancetta, chopped
1/2 head of radicchio, sliced in strips
1 tablespoon white wine vinegar

To make the shrimp:

1 tablespoon olive oil
8 large shell-off shrimp (thaw if frozen)
1 large clove garlic, sliced thinly
1 jalapeno, seeded and sliced thinly lengthwise
1/4 cup dry white wine
1 more tablespoon olive oil
1/8 cup mint leaves, chopped

1.  Place pancetta on a cold saute pan over medium heat and cook for 5 or 6 minutes or until most of the fat is cooked off.  Add in radicchio and cook until wilted.  Turn off the heat and immediately add the white wine vinegar, tossing to coat.

2.  Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a separate saute pan over medium heat (or you can transfer the radicchio to a serving bowl and use the same pan for this step).  When the oil is nice and hot, throw in the shrimp, garlic and chilies. When the shrimp are cooked halfway through and garlic is light brown, add the wine and 1 more tablespoon of olive oil.  Immediately flip shrimp over, cooking them through completely, about 1-2 more minutes.  Turn off heat, add mint and toss. 

3.  Plate radicchio in a shallow bowl, nest the shrimp mixture on top and serve immediately.

Shrimp with Garlic, Chilies and Mint over Pancetta Radicchio

Photos by Alan Foreman


  1. This looks damn good! I'm trying hard not to spend too much money lately, too - holiday shopping is the worst! I live in Brooklyn, mom and dad, I can't afford to get you much! :) At least I can make this delicious looking shrimp.

  2. Haha, totally. I think everyone will get a homemade pot holder this year.