Shrimp and braising rarely make good bedfellows in the culinary world because of the lengthy cooking time—which we all know would render the crustacean inedible. But cookbook author Molly Stevens says of her dish Orange-Scented Mediterranean Shrimp Braise, “The shrimp get tossed in just a few minutes before serving, making the finished dish a real cornucopia of seafood and vegetables.”
The braising liquid for this dish consists of a colorful mix of tomatoes, garlic, onion, carrots, and celery that is brightened with the zests and juice of orange and lime. Also included are small potatoes turning it into a satisfying one-dish meal. Since this braise comes out rather soupy, serve it in shallow pasta bowls. But if your appetites are crying for more, ladle the braise over linguine or rice.
Russ is not a huge potato fan so he wanted rice with the meal. I found it odd having both potatoes and rice, and would have preferred one or the other, but it certainly did not take away from the complexity of flavors that made a heartwarming contrast to the frigid outdoor temps.
About the canned tomatoes, first and foremost the grocery stores never seem to carry the small 14-ounce size, so I was forced to buy the larger 28-ounce can, and I used the entire amount. We like things saucy and Russ was thrilled that I included the whole can, it not only added more of the gorgeous red color, we got an extra boost of lycopene! Plus, according to some researchers “…it is 60% more expensive to get dietary fiber from fresh tomatoes than from a can.” So bring on the fiber!
Then there’s the age old controversy about leaving the olives pitted, which can be annoying when trying to eat civilly in the presence of company. But when you cook olives whole, it’s almost like an anchovy. The salt comes out of the olives, and the olive becomes more like a vegetable, and the salt from the olive flavors the dish really wonderfully. Pits, or no pits, I leave that dilemma up to you…
I also used one entire celery stalk instead of a half, and one large carrot, because, why not? Again, it’s more color, and additional health benefits. And while butter is an option at the end of cooking, and I wasn’t originally going to include it, I took Molly’s advice to cut back on the acidity of the dish, but incorporated only one tablespoon as opposed to two, and it provided the perfect finish.
- 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 3 to 4 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
- 1 /2 cup finely chopped yellow onion (about ½ small onion)
- 1 /2 cup finely chopped carrot (1 small carrot)
- ½ cup finely chopped celery (1/2 stalk)
- Coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
- ½ cup dry white wine or dry white vermouth
- 2 strips orange zest, removed with a vegetable peeler (each about 3 inches by ¾ inch)
- 1 strip lime zest, removed with a vegetable peeler (about 2 inches by ½ inch)
- ¼ cup freshly squeezed orange juice
- ¼ cup freshly squeezed lime juice
- One 14½-ounce can whole peeled tomatoes, drained and chopped (or use the large 28-ounce can like we did)
- Pinch of crushed red pepper flakes
- ¼ cup chopped flat-leaf parsley
- ¾ pound small potatoes, preferably fingerlings or white creamers
- ¼ cup small green olives, such as Picholine, not pitted
- 2 tablespoons capers, rinsed and drained
- ¾ pound large shrimp (30 to 35 count per pound), peeled and deveined
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 4 pieces (optional)
- The aromatics and braising liquid: Heat the oil in a large deep lidded skillet (13-inch works well) over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add the onion, carrot, and celery. Season with salt and pepper, stir, and sauté until just beginning to soften, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic, sauté another minute more. Add the white wine, orange and lime zests, and orange and lime juices, and let the liquid simmer vigorously until reduced by half, 5 to 8 minutes. Stir in the tomatoes, crushed red pepper, and 2 tablespoons of the parsley. Return to a simmer.
- The braise: Turn the heat to very low, cover, and simmer gently for 5 minutes. Then add the potatoes, olives, and capers. Stir so the potatoes are evenly distributed, replace the cover, and continue to simmer until the potatoes are easily pierced with the tip of a knife, another 30 to 40 minutes.
- The finish: Add the shrimp, leave the pan uncovered, and adjust the heat so the liquid simmers gently. Simmer just until the shrimp are cooked through, 4 to 5 minutes. Stir in the remaining 2 tablespoons parsley, and taste. If the sauce tastes too acidic or too sharp, stir in the butter. The small bit of butter will soften the acidity nicely. Taste again for salt and pepper. Remove the zests if you like, and serve in shallow bowls.