Saffron Shrimp and Stuffed Cherry Peppers
- SERVINGS: 4 FIRST-COURSE SERVINGS
- 1/2 cup dry white wine
- 1/2 cup water
- 2 1/2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- Large pinch of saffron threads
- Kosher salt
- 1 pound medium shrimp, shelled and deveined
- 2 anchovy fillets, minced
- 2 small garlic cloves, minced
- Freshly ground pepper
- 16 mildly hot Italian red cherry peppers
- 1/2 cup fresh corn kernels
- 1 large egg
- 1 large egg yolk
- 1/4 cup heavy cream
- 1/4 cup milk
- 3 tablespoons grated Manchego cheese
- In a large saucepan, combine the wine, water and olive oil. Crumble in the saffron, add a pinch of salt and bring to a boil. Add the shrimp and simmer over moderate heat for 2 minutes. Transfer the shrimp to a shallow baking dish and let cool. Simmer the cooking liquid until reduced to 3/4 cup, about 12 minutes; let cool slightly. Stir in the anchovies and garlic and season with salt and pepper. Pour the cooking liquid over the shrimp and refrigerate for 2 to 3 hours.
- Preheat the oven to 350°. Cut the tops off the cherry peppers and reserve; remove the seeds and membranes. Salt the insides of the peppers and turn upside down to drain for 10 minutes.
- In a small saucepan, boil the corn kernels in water until almost tender, about 3 minutes; drain. In a bowl, whisk the whole egg with the yolk and 1/2 teaspoon of salt. Whisk in the cream and milk, then whisk in the grated cheese.
- On a baking sheet, add a teaspoon of the corn to each pepper, then fill with the custard. Bake for 30 minutes, or until set. Serve warm with the shrimp.
Rioja is probably best known as a red-wine region, but its whites are almost always better values. Made primarily from the Viura grape (sometimes called Macabeo), white Riojas are noteworthy for their fresh citrus and mineral flavors. Although they can be aged for a decade or more, they are so appealing in their youth, there's really no reason to wait. Look for an example with grapefruit and mineral notes balanced by a whisper of oak. It will pair beautifully with a wide range of tapas dishesfrom corn-custard-stuffed chile peppers to Serrano ham and saffron shrimp.
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Congratulations to Mei Lin, winner of Top Chef Season 12.