THE BEST homemade soups and stews are the ones that knock your socks off with flavor. That’s why you make them, right? They scream, HELLO YUMMY!
Shrimp and spicy Italian sausage stew is one of these. When I want to impress someone with a ‘SPECIAL DINNER’, I usually make this dish ,or I make my Super Tasty Tomato Bisque.
Making shrimp and sausage stew
This Special, gourmet style dinner will only take about 40 minutes to make, start to finish. The ingredients are common except for the fennel bulb and possibly the hot Italian sausage. And it’s these two items that help to bring all the delicious flavors together.
Fennel bulb is like celery on steroids. It has the same texture as celery but imparts a sweet, anise flavor that really brightens up the taste. It might be hard to find in certain places but Whole Foods, larger supermarkets and farmers markets should have some.
In a pinch you could substitute 2 stalks of celery for the fennel, then add 1 teaspoon of crushed fennel seeds. Add the fennel seeds to the saute pan along with the celery and reduce the softening time to 5 or 6 minutes.
Hot Italian sausage should be available in most places. If not, you can add ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper to mild Italian sausage. The key is to have a slight spiciness to the meat and that gives the dish an extra punch.
Once the sausage is browned, take a taste. It should have a bit of a tingle down the back of your throat.
Additional tips to make this tasty stew
- Use large shrimp, like 25 shrimp per pound size. You may find frozen, tail on, peeled and deveined shrimp. Just thaw and remove the tail. If your shrimp is in the shell, peel off the shell and tail. Then use a small sharp knife to cut into the back of the shrimp, (about ¼” deep), and remove any dark strands. I usually do this over some cold running water.
- This recipe calls for fresh herbs; basil and thyme. For the perfect flavor, fresh herbs are a must.
- When you add the shrimp to the stew at the very end, in 3 to 4 minutes they will be cooked through. Any longer and the shrimp will start to get rubbery. Serve the stew right away.
Have some good, crusty bread with the stew so you can soak up all the good flavor from the broth.
A cold, crisp wine like sauvignon blanc or pinot grigio pairs nicely. Ice water with some lemon is a good choice too.
So the next time you want a special dinner for family or friends, make some shrimp and sausage stew. You will think that you’re in a high buck restaurant…but you made it yourself.
Shrimp and Sausage Stew
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 large fennel bulb , trimmed and chopped (about 2 cups in 1/2-inch pieces)
- 4 cloves garlic , rough chopped
- 2 small shallots , minced
- 12 ounces bulk hot Italian sausage
- 1 1/2 cups dry white wine
- 1/4 cup tomato paste
- 2 1/2 cups chicken broth
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 pound large shrimp (21-30/pound), peeled and deveined
- 2 cups white beans , rinsed and drained
- 1/2 cup fresh basil , chopped
- 1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme leaves
- kosher salt and black pepper to taste
- Heat the oil over medium-high heat in a large heavy pan.
- Add the fennel, garlic, and shallots and cook, stirring occasionally with a wooden spoon, until the vegetables are softened, about 10 minutes.
- Add the sausage and break it up with the spoon. Cook until the sausage is brown, about 5 minutes.
- Add the wine and use the spoon to get up any browned bits from the bottom of the pan.
- Stir in the tomato paste, chicken broth, and bay leaf and bring to a simmer.
- Cover and cook for 10 minutes.
- Uncover the pan and add the shrimp, beans, basil, and thyme.
- Simmer, uncovered, until the shrimp are pink and cooked through, about 4 minutes. Discard the bay leaf.
- Season to taste with kosher salt and fresh ground pepper.
- 2 stalks of celery can be substituted for the fennel. Just add 1 teaspoon of crushed fennel seeds to the pan when you start to soften the onion and celery. Reduce the softening time to 5 or 6 minutes.
- Mild Italian sausage can be used, but add 1/2 teaspoon of cayenne pepper for the heat which makes this taste so good.