Chorizo and shrimp fettuccine with pomodoro sauce is a pasta pleasure, conjuring Mediterranean sun and sea. Peppery chorizo and briny shrimp are paired in a rich tomato sauce that’s spiced with serrano peppers. Served over buttered fettuccine, every single flavor shines out brightly.
All the different tastes in this recipe share the spotlight here. No ingredient is pushed into the back line, and nobody elbows their way to the front. That’s because each ingredient enjoys a little attentive cooking of its own. And that individual focus encourages each one to give their best performance. Like this.
With a liberal sprinkle of strong Parmesan cheese and a few grinds of black pepper, our first-class tomato sauce is easily good enough to be served solo with all sorts of pasta. But it’s also classy enough to appear alongside, say, pan-seared fish, a good burger, or any number of bbq’d meats with a good-looking pile of French fries. It’s a sauce with many happy possibilities.
The shell-on shrimp and the rounds of chorizo? Well, plenty of sizzling butter in a medium-high skillet quickly turns these into juicy little luxuries. They’re exactly the sort of cook’s treat that I love to taste-check right at the stovetop — ‘just testing, folks. Just testing’.
As for the slices of serrano peppers, they only join the pomodoro sauce right at the very end — a few minutes so they warm through, keep some crunch, and still hug most of their heat close to themselves. Which means, just like everything else here, you’ll really get to taste them for what they are.
Even the humble fettuccine walks the red carpet. While still hot after being drained in a big colander, it’s generously sheened with butter, and then gets a little savory lift from a touch of sea salt.
Less is more — much more
Simplicity is what makes this dish so appealing. The secret of its success is that there are surprisingly few ingredients — serranos, tomatoes, onion, garlic, pasta, butter, chorizo, olive oil, and shrimp. That’s it. Plus some deft seasoning with sea salt, demerara sugar, and black pepper. If you like Parmesan cheese, by all means offer a good, strong one at the table so that people can help themselves.
The star ingredients don’t need to be supported by typically Mediterranean herbs like oregano or thyme. And there’s no place on the credits for bay leaves, parsley, rosemary, or marjoram.
And what about basil? In a dish like this, surely, there must be fresh basil? Ok. Sometimes I might roughly tear up a few leaves — only a few, mind you — and offer them as a scanty garnish. Mostly, I don’t even bother to do that. For me, basil’s big flavor and fragrance are too much for this dish. And I certainly wouldn’t dream of adding such a characterful herb to our exquisite pomodoro sauce.
Don’t skimp on the shrimp — or anything else for that matter
When every flavor shines out brightly, nothing gets to hide. That means the quality of your ingredients is under some heavy scrutiny here. So, buy well.
Frozen shrimp? Yep, good, plump, palely pink ones that have been ready prepped are just dandy. I always go for shell-on shrimp because there’s bags of flavor in each critter’s natural, outer casing.
Canned tomatoes? Again, there’s zero wrong with whole, peeled plum tomatoes that come in a can with their juices, and, preferably, nothing else. I’ve been trusting the same cans for years — you probably have been too. For specific brands, The New York Times offers some tried-and-tested opinions here.
For the chorizo, I buy a full-flavored, Portuguese-style sausage which has a little more chili and paprika than its Spanish parents. If you like the taste of your usual choice, it’ll be grand for this dish.
Chorizo And Shrimp Fettuccine With Pomodoro Sauce
The pomodoro sauce
- 2 serrano peppers sliced into 1/8-inch rounds seeds and all
- 2 cans peeled plum tomatoes 14-ounce cans, whole tomatoes are grandbut chopped are also fine
- 1 yellow onion medium-sized, peeled, and finely chopped
- 4 cloves garlic peeled and finely sliced
- 1 heaped teaspoon demerara sugar
- 1 heaped teaspoon ground sea salt
- 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
For the chorizo
- 8 ounces chorizo sliced into 1/3-inch rounds. That should give you about 16 rounds – four per person.
For the shrimp
- 16 frozen shrimp or prawns — defrosted, and well drained off any excess water on kitchen towel. The ones I used were about 3 inches long, deveined, heads-off, shells and tails on. Total weight was just over ¾ pound.
- 2 tablespoons salted butter
For the tagliatelle
- 1 pound fettucine durum wheat fettucine is recommended
- 1 teaspoon ground sea salt for the pasta’s water
- 1/2 tablespoon salted butter
- 1 teaspoon ground sea salt for seasoning the just-cooked pasta
Cooking the pomodoro sauce
- Use a saucepan that’s only going to be about a third or less full when all the sauce’s ingredients are added to it. This will give you a broad base of heat that really helps to gently sweat down the onions and garlic, and to soften the tomatoes.
- Place the pan on a medium heat and add the olive oil. Swirl the oil all around the bottom, and then stir in the onions, garlic, salt and sugar. Drop the heat to low and set a lid just ajar on the top. The trick here is let the onions and garlic cook slowly for about 15 minutes or so with a few mindful stirs. What must not happen is for them to start picking up any fried colour. Over that low heat, you want the onions to turn translucent and for the garlic to soften so it’s easily mashed with the back of a teaspoon.
- Once that happens, add the tomatoes and juice, give the pan and thorough stir, and turn the heat to medium. As soon as the sauce just barely starts to bubble, drop the heat to low and cover the pan. For the next 15 minutes, it’s a process of stir-and-cover until the tomatoes begin to fall apart in their own gently simmering juices – and I mean gently simmering.
- Keeping the heat on low, now use a spatula to break apart any chunks of tomato, and work them into the sauce.
- Add the black pepper and continue to cook the sauce — uncovered now — with a few stirs. for another 10 gentle minutes. Good. Your pomodoro is ready. Turn off the heat and cover the pan. Time now for the prawns and chorizo.
Cooking the prawns and the chorizo
- For this, you’ll need a big, heavy, deep skillet that’s amply large enough to hold the pomodoro sauce, and all the shrimp and chorizo. Why so big? Well, that’s where the sauce, chorizo, and shrimp come together for their final few minutes’ cooking.
- So, set your skillet onto a medium-high heat and add the butter. As soon as it starts to foam, add all the shrimp in a single layer. Let them sizzle away for 90 seconds, and then turn them all over for another 90 seconds’ sizzling.
- Take the skillet off the heat, and use a slotted spoon to quickly remove the shrimp, setting them aside on a dinner plate. Keep as much of the buttery juices as you can in the skillet. The more the better because that’s where the chorizo is heading right now.
- Set the skillet back on a medium-high heat, and add the slices of chorizo. You want these to fry for about 90 seconds or so on each side so that they just begin to take on a little darkening colour. Good. Turn off the heat and use your slotted spoon to remove the slices, and set them on the plate with the shrimp. Time to cook the pasta.
Cooking the fettuccine
- Fill a big pan three quarters full of water, set it on a high heat and add the salt. As soon as it reaches a rolling boil add the fettucine. Let the pasta boil for about 9 minutes – or however long it suggests on the pack – until it’s just al dente. Turn off the heat, and drain the pasta in a big colander. Let it sit there steaming away for a minute or so, and then return it to the still-warm pan it boiled in.
- Add ½ tablespoon butter and ½ teaspoon salt. Give the pasta a few good stirs so it all gets coated in the salt and melting butter, and then cover the pan. Good, you’re nearly done.
Bringing it all together – pretty promptly
- Return your buttery skillet to a medium-high heat, pour in all the pomodoro sauce, and add the sliced serranos.
- Give it a good stir so that all the skillet’s juices and chili get thoroughly mixed into the sauce. Keep the skillet on that medium-high heat until the sauce just starts to bubble. Now add the shrimp, chorizo, and juices from the plate they were sitting on.
- Stir just enough so that the sauce coats the shrimp and chorizo. Drop the heat to low, and let the sauce come back up to a bare simmer. Done. Turn off the heat. You’re ready to serve – straightaway, please.
- Set a portion of fettuccine into the centre of each diner’s plate. Then top it with an equable amount of sauce, shrimp and chorizo.
- Forks and spoons are all that’s also needed now – plus some napkins for folk who’ll be sensibly using their fingers to enjoy their shrimp.