Scampi Appetizer Alla Buonavia

from Lidia Matticchio Bastianich

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This appetizer was very popular at my first restaurant, Buonavia, which opened in 1971. It was a time when lots and lots of chopped garlic was used in Italian-American cooking. If you like a milder garlic flavor, use crushed or sliced garlic cloves instead, and remove them from the dish before you serve it.

Serves 6

3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, plus more for finishing dish
3 garlic cloves, chopped fine
1 pound extra-large (about 25 to the pound) shrimp, completely shelled, deveined and cut crosswise into 3 pieces
1 tablespoon chopped chives
cup dry white wine
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 4 pieces
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 tablespoon chopped Italian parsley
teaspoon crushed red pepper
6 slices Italian bread (about 1/4-inch thick and 2 1/2 inches wide), toasted and kept warm
1 lemon, cut into slices
Whole chives and/or parsley sprigs, optional

In this dish, high heat and speed heat are essential. Make sure the pan is good and hot when you add the shrimp and that it is wide enough to hold all the shrimp pieces in a single layer (so it doesn’t cool down as they go in). And be sure to have all your ingredients right by the stove-- once the shrimp go into the pan, it’s ‘full speed ahead.’

Heat 3 tablespoons olive oil in a large skillet, over medium heat. Add the garlic and cook, shaking the pan, until light golden, about 2 minutes. Raise the heat to high, add the shrimp and toss until they are bright pink and seared on all sides, about 2 minutes. Stir in the chives, then add the wine, butter and lemon juice. Bring to a boil and boil until the shrimp are barely opaque in the center and the sauce is reduced by half, about 2 minutes. Stir in the parsley.

Place a piece of warm toast in the center of each of six warm plates. Spoon the shrimp and sauce over the toast, drizzling some of the sauce around the toast. Decorate the plates with lemon, and the parsley sprigs and/or chives, if using.