Cajun Shrimp Scampi
So what makes this Cajun you ask. What I call a "Cajun mirepoix" is used to add an underlying base to this classic dish. Mirepoix is a French term used for a seasoning mixture and in southwest Louisiana we use onion, bell pepper, celery, and in some cases, tasso. For those not familiar with tasso, it's seasoned, cured and smoked pork. If you are not able to find it, substitute ham.
Bring an 8- to 10-quart pot of salted water to a boil.
Cook onion, bell pepper and celery in a 1 tablespoon of oil in a 12-inch heavy skillet over low heat, covered, stirring occasionally, until softened, 10 to 12 minutes (do not brown. Transfer mirepoix to a large bowl. Cook tasso in 1 tablespoon remaining oil in skillet over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until lightly browned, 3 to 4 minutes. Add tasso to mirepoix. (Do not clean skillet). heat remaining 2 tablespoons oil in skillet over medium high heat until hot, then saute shrimp, turning once, until just cooked through, about 2 minutes. Transfer shrimp with a slotted spoon to mirepoix. Add garlic, wine, cayenne, and 1/2 teaspoon salt to skillet and bring to a boil, stirring up brown bits. Add mirepoix mixture and butter and stir until butter is just melted. Remove skillet from heat.
Meanwhile, cook pasta in boiling water until al dente, about 4 minutes. Reserve 1 cup pasta cooking water and drain pasta. Toss pasta in bowl with mirepoix mixture, parsley, lemon zest, and salt to taste, adding some of the pasta cooking water if necessary to moisten.
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