Shrimp Fra Diavolo

Here is a recipe for one of my all time favorite pasta dishes.  This recipe can have as much or as little of a kick as you like by adjusting the amount of pepper flakes.  (I usually add a pinch or two more)  “Fra Diavolo” is italian for brother of the devil, so this recipe is not suited for those with a fear of spice!  This recipe is from Cooks Illustrated and they have researched many different ways to make it and this one with the mix of cognac and white wine along with roasted and fresh garlic make the depth of flavor seem to be endless.  Be sure to prep all of your ingredients ahead of time, as this recipe goes fast.  Also, when you are doing your first addition of garlic to the pan, if you are uncertain of how to control the temperature and not burn it, as soon as the garlic starts to foam, pull it off of the heat.  Let it cool down a bit, then add it back until it starts to foam again.  Repeat that until the garlic turns a nice gold color. 

Serve this dish with a quick salad or a nice crusty bread to soak up every bit of the sauce and enjoy!

Shrimp Fra Diavolo with Linguine (also works well with chicken)


1 lb. large shrimp (31-40 per lb.), peeled and deveined
1 tsp. red pepper flakes, divided
6 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil, divided
1½ tsp. salt
¼ cup cognac or brandy
12 cloves garlic, minced or pressed through a garlic press (about ¼ cup), divided
½ tsp. sugar
1 (28 oz.) can diced tomatoes, drained
1 cup medium-dry white wine, such as Sauvignon Blanc
¼ cup minced fresh parsley
1 lb. linguine


Bring a large pot of salted water to boil.


Meanwhile, heat a large skillet over high heat until the pan is very hot.  Combine the shrimp, half of the red pepper flakes, 2 tablespoons of the oil, and half of the salt in a medium bowl; toss to blend.  Add the shrimp to the skillet and spread into a single layer.  Let cook without stirring until the bottoms of the shrimp turn a spotty brown, about 30-45 seconds.  Off the heat, flip the shrimp over.  Add the cognac or brandy to the pan.  Let stand briefly to allow the cognac to warm slightly, about 5 seconds, then return the pan to high heat.  Wave a lit match over the skillet until the cognac ignites.  Shake the skillet until the flames subside, then transfer the shrimp to a bowl and set aside.


Cool the skillet for 2 minutes.  Return the skillet to the burner and reduce the heat to low.  Add 3 tablespoons of the oil and 3 tablespoons of the garlic.  Cook, stirring frequently, until the garlic is sticky and light golden and begins to foam, about 7-10 minutes.  Mix in the remaining red pepper flakes, the remaining salt, the sugar, tomatoes and wine.  Increase the heat to medium-high and simmer until thickened and fragrant, about 8 minutes.


While the sauce is simmering, add the linguine to the boiling water and cook according to the package directions until al dente.  Drain, reserving 1/3 cup of the pasta water.  Return the pasta to the now empty pot, add about ½ cup of the sauce and 2-3 tablespoons of the pasta water.  Toss well to coat.


Stir the reserved shrimp and accumulated juices, remaining garlic and the parsley into the sauce.  Simmer until the shrimp are heated through, about 1 minute.  Stir in the remaining 1 tablespoon oil.  Divide the pasta among warmed serving bowls and top with the shrimp and sauce.  Serve immediately.