the goodsprawn stock:
shells from 1 lb / 450g of colossal prawns
1 lb / 450g small head-on shrimp
4 cups water
1 cup white wine
1 clove garlic
1 pinch saffron threads
1 tspn sea salt
1 1/2 cups prawn stock
2 pinches saffron threads
2 oz butter
3 tblspns plain flour
1 cup light cream (or 'half and half')
1/2 cup milk
pinch smoked paprika
1 tblspn brandy
12-16 oz (350-450g) penne pasta shells
1 lb / 450g colossal prawns, shelled and deveined.
1/4 cup olive oil
2 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed
2 cups fresh white bread crumbs
4 oz / 110g smoked mozarella, grated
2 oz / 55g parmesan cheese, grated
2 oz butter, melted
1 pinch saffron threads
you will need:
Smoky saffron and colossal prawn mac and cheese.
This is the cashmere of mac and cheeses.
Rich. Fabulous. Sublime.
This is a sensual, luxurious indulgence which will make you forget about the recession one mouthful at a time.
There are a couple of steps, but don't be put off by the thought of making the prawn stock. You can have it all done in 15 minutes. Unlike meat stocks which stretch themselves out like a bad marriage, making this stock is a hot, quick affair which will have everything blushing like the prawn shells.
You can make it a day ahead if you like, then just
leave the stripped prawns loitering in a bath of olive
oil and garlic overnight.The point of using colossal
prawns is that they are so big that they cook in
proportion to the browning of the topping. Smaller
prawns would overcook.
You can make the stock with just the colossal prawn shells, but as they are freshwater, I just pick up a pound of cheaper shrimp with their heads still attached. They give the stock some salty gravity and you can peel them after and chop them up for a shrimp salad, but I must admit to discarding them.
I was a very spoilt boy; my friend, Betty, graced me with a ransom sized bag of fine Persian saffron threads. You might adjust the quantity of pinches in this recipe based on the quality and age of your saffron.
everything in a medium saucepan and bring to a steady
simmer. Cook for 15 mins and then pour through a sieve
into a bowl. Press lightly on the prawns and shells to
extract as much juice as possible. Discard the solids.
You should have 3 cups of liquid. This will keep 2 days
in the refridgerator. Freeze the extra for the next
time you make this.
peel and devein the
prawns (the shells go into the stock). Splash them with
the olive oil, add the garlic and a pinch of saffron.
Cover and refrigerate.
bread into crumbs and mix with the grated cheeses.
melt the butter and add the saffron, allow to infuse at least 10 minutes.
bring a pot of water
to the boil. Add a fistful of salt and the pasta.
heat the stock and 1 pinch saffron in a small saucepan
melt the butter in a skillet or saucepan, add the flour and whisk to combine. Cook until the paste has turned nut-brown. Add the stock and whisk until smooth. Add the cream and milk and bring to a gentle simmer.
season with salt, pepper, paprika and another pinch of saffron (I grind mine down using the edge of a sugar cube)
drizzle the brandy into the sauce and stir.
pasta, not too fastidiously. A little pasta water helps
the sauce get along with the noodles.
mix 3/4 of the
pasta with the sauce. If it looks too sauce heavy, add
more pasta. Remember that a lot of the sauce will soak
into the pasta when it is in the oven.
pour the pasta
into an oven dish or individual ramekins. Top with the
cheesy bread crumbs.
arrange the prawns in the centre of the dish.
drizzle half of the saffron butter over the prawns.
bake in a hot oven (430f / 225c) for about 15-20 minutes until the topping is brown and the prawns are cooked through to a startling shade of scarlet!
This pasta is curiously good with a salad of bitter
greens mixed with whisper thin rounds of radishes and
cherry tomatoes. The cool, spicy, crunchy textures of
the salad are the perfect foil for the creamy, smoky
sexiness of the pasta.
Of course, a knockout glass of wine couldn't hurt either!