Scipione – Pasta with Lobster and Shrimp Sauce Recipe
I do not know what compelled me to pick up the ringing phone, upstairs, in my office, in the middle of my cooking, but I did. That was a mistake, by the time I smelled the aroma of burnt garlic waffling through the air, it assaulted my nostrils in the most punishing way, right in the midst of my call.
I slammed the phone down and I screamed: “Scipione Nooo!” then I run down the stairs at the speed of light, leaping past two, three steps at the time. By the time I got to the stove it was too late. The garlic pieces had turned into blackened charcoal, the sauce had burnt beyond recognition, leaving a black, bubbling mess behind, covering the whole bottom of the pan. The polished stainless steel that had shone so bright just a few moments ago was now in shambles, covered by this unholy mess of a burnt sauce I had created. I was adrift in a sea of shame.
I had just received Scipione in the mail a couple of weeks ago, and I was smitten from the moment I opened the box. I remembered it as it was yesterday, the minute, the instant we met. “Scipione” I murmured to myself, as I unveiled the pan from its box and placed it on the kitchen stove with its lid on top. Just like his brothers and sisters before, Scipione glimmered in the light. He had a stance, naturally, just by sitting there, its copper armor was finely hammered and lined with stainless steel, this, was a piece of culinary artistry.
My eyes at first could not believe the richness of the details, in the curvature of the main handle its smooth and comfortable finish as it rested, naturally, against the palm of the hand. The assist second handle, riveted in place on the opposite side, did shine like a jewel, this for me, was not a pan, it was a magical talisman, full of promises. It gave me dreams of dinners to be made for a lucky few, long hours in the kitchen creating new stories and chapters of our life together. I was so happy. My wife saw me hugging the pan close to my chest and she heard the words of my whisper, understood it all, in spite of the fact that I spoke in Sicilian dialect: “ Scipiu’ ti vogghiu bene assai! ( Scipione I love you!)”.
Once I leaped pass the stairs and got in the kitchen, at first, I stood there silently, saw the smoke approaching the ceiling and then I snapped into action at once. I immediately started pushing the blackened smoke away from the fire alarm in the ceiling, using Scipione’ws own lid, whilst clicking the hood vent above the stove to its maximum speed. I kept stealing glances of Scipione, there all alone, scarred and burnt, sitting atop the cooking grates of my stove.
Then it hit me. Scipione was looking at me as if saying: “Dude! what are you doing ? get in me in sink and pour some soapy warm water and let me be for a while, I will be ok…. We got a sauce we need to do over, Caspisce?”.
I do not know what this says about me, talking to copper pan, like this. For some people around me, this might have appeared as an act of madness, a hallucination maybe, but, to me it was the natural thing to do. Scipione was not an inanimate object, he had a soul, we had a connection, he was my buddy!
I followed Scipione’s instructions, I let it cool down first, then I poured some hot water and added a bit of liquid soap, stirred that around an let it be for 15-20 minutes. By the time I came back with a non-abrasive sponge, I started wiping gently the bottom of the pan and to my amazement, the blackened quagmire from the burn came off, with minimal effort. A couple of washes with warm and soapy water finished the rest, Scipione was as good as new and when he looked at me after I dried the last bit of water off him, he said: “ Nico’ Scitate ca noatri avimmo a Cucinari! ( Nick wake up, we got cooking to do!)”. And so it went, on this one eve at the feet of my greatest defeat, pushed by Scipione, I rallied up and came up with a huge victory instead.
Scipione and I moved through all the steps in the recipe with care attention and above all passion and love. The masterpiece that ensued was the product of a remarkable turnaround, inspired in no small part by his ever-so-perfect heat distribution, every stir was calculated. By the time the sauce came to its perfect fruition, we added the shellfish, shrimps and lobster, an unusual cut of pasta known as Mezzi Rigatoni, typical of us Sicilians, and while I was stirring the sauce and the pasta together, I came to realize the power of Scipione, this magical talisman was inspiring my vision and holding my hand when I was uncertain. I do not care how great anyone else is in the kitchen, but, I will tell you this, from time to time you will come close to a culinary disaster at the most inopportune moment. The lucky ones amongst us will find the inspiration they need to turn things around, the commoners like me can always use the help of a true warrior like Scipione.
A pan like this is not made to show off, rather it is made to face up to cooking most ignominious challenges. In the end, it all depends on us, if you do not have it inside of you already, a pan will not give you passion, or love or purpose or intent for that matter, but, I will tell you this, Scipione did that for me, he awoke me from my panic and urged me on. Cooking is like everything else in life, is hard, it is fraught with challenges and defeats along the way. It is what we do with these experiences that makes us the chefs we are like my father used to say; “ In the end we are what we become!” . I will always remember his favorite saying: “ Tutto e’ Possibile” ( all is possible) .
So, this is why when cooking with Scipione I enter the arena unafraid, I told you already, he is my talisman, the fact that he looks like a piece of culinary jewelry, well, that is just a bonus.
Alone in the kitchen that night after I cleaned up, I took a sip of my favorite Rye, raised a glass to my dad, somewhere up in the sky and silently recited my prayers, I know my late father would have like Scipione and his attitude, this that I cooked that night, was one of the first recipes Dad shared with me when I was a little boy, I can still feel his presence when I make it.
At the end of the evening I put all the pans and utensils away except for Scipione, I positioned him, shining and brilliant in the middle of the stove. “ Scipiu’ ne virimmo dumani( See you tomorrow Scipione!) “
Pasta with Lobster and Shrimp Sauce Recipe
For the Lobster/shrimp Stock:
one lobster about 1-1/2 pounds; save the shell, including the head and claws, after you have
pulled off the meat and cut it into cubes of approximately 1 inch each in size.
one pound of shrimp shelled, and keep the shells for the stock
½ lb. of fresh or frozen calamari cut into rings
3 tablespoons extra light olive oil
5 cloves garlic, cut thick
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/2 cup finely chopped carrots
1/2 cup finely chopped celery
1/2 cup finely chopped onion
2 pieces fresh thyme, 3 inch long
1/2 cup chopped bacon
1 teaspoon of Nick’s Magic Rub
1/2 cup brandy
3 cups chicken stock.
2 cups tomato sauce.
1 pound of Mezzi Rigatoni or Rigatoni
For The Pasta with Lobster Sauce:
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
4 cloves garlic, thickly sliced
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
½ cup tomato sauce
2 teaspoons of Nick’s Magic Rub
1-1/2 cups lobster stock
After you have removed the lobster meat, cut the shells and claws into 2” pieces.
Add the oil and garlic to a nonstick pot. Stir while cooking over medium-high heat for 1 minute.
Add the red pepper flakes, stir, and cook for approximately 1 minute until the garlic starts to
Reduce heat to medium. Add the onion, celery, and carrots. Stir well, and cook for 2 minutes.
Add the thyme, stir, and cook for 1 minute.
Add the bacon, stir, and cook for 1 minute
Add Nick’s magic rub, stir, and cook for 1 minute
Add the lobster and shrimp shells, stir, and cook for 3 more minutes. Press down on the shells
with the cooking spoon to extract the juice.
Stir in the brandy and cook for 2 minutes .
Pour in the chicken stock and tomato sauce, stir, and cook for 4 minutes.
Bring to a boil before reducing the heat. Simmer for 30 minutes.
Congratulations! You’ve made lobster stock!
Strain the stock and discard the shells. Keep warm while making the sauce.
Bring a pot of water to boil and prepare the pasta, Cook for 2 minutes less than designated on the
package.(i.e.; if the instructions recommend 10 minutes, cook for 8).
While the pasta cooks, make the lobster sauce. Add the oil and garlic to a large nonstick skillet
and cook over medium heat for 2 minutes.
Add the shrimp the lobster meat and the calamari rings and cook over medium heat for 3
minutes stirring well, add the tomatoes sauce and add the lobster stock and cook for 3 more
minutes over medium heat .
Add the pasta stir well, and cook for 3 minutes.
Serve in individual pasta bowls and top each with extra lobster sauce.