Do you ever have nights where you come home, throw your stuff on the counter, kick off your shoes, toss your keys somewhere that you hope you’ll remember come tomorrow morning, and think “god help me if I have to chop a single freakin’ thing for dinner tonight”? I do. I remember one particular day, like this, that my friend and I decided to just go out for dinner. When I asked what her now-husband would do for dinner, she looked at me as frankly as anyone could, and said “he can eat toast”. We’ve all been there. If I can’t substitute fresh minced garlic with the Garlic Oil that I have on standby—because some days, mincing garlic is even too much—or pulse everything that requires imprecise chopping in a mini-food processor, well, it’s not happening.
This recipe is perfect for those nights. There’s little to no knife work involved, and a truly scarce list of ingredients. That said, the flavor is not indicative of that, in part due to the compound butter. I keep a log of this Dill Compound butter in my freezer for nights when I just can’t be bothered, but virtually everything bothers me. I’ve often bought a bunch of dill from the grocery store for a recipe only to use a few t-spoons worth, leaving the rest to hang around in the fridge, begging to be used. Rather than composting it, I fold copious amounts of minced dill into soft butter that’s been beaten with extremely minimal amounts of lemon juice and zest, Dijon mustard, and a bit of salt—to keep dill the prominent flavor, and make the levels of other flavors more controllable. It’s a simple standby, but it doesn’t feel so, and when you’re desperate it comes in real handy. Rub some on a whole or jointed chicken before roasting, or used to finish a pan sauce with a bit of wine and more Dijon, spooned over shellfish in the vein of moules frites, used to baste a seared halibut filet—the list goes on. Obviously, you don’t have to wait for desperate times to use it, but I sleep better at night knowing it’s in my freezer when desperate measures are called for.
Here, the butter makes it way into this Spaghetti and Prawn dish. It might be a little pretentious to call them prawns rather than shrimp, but for this dish I prefer larger specimens—13-15 count, to be exact—and I cant quite bring myself to call these beasts “shrimp”. It’s so simple but tastes so great. The longest part is waiting for the pasta water to boil; after that it’s speedy sailing! The shrimp is quickly seared, before compound butter and pasta water are added in. The pasta is then tossed into the sauce, along with a squeeze of lemon juice and dinner is ready. Scale it up, scale it down—you’ll have more than enough butter. The final flourish of more dill is totally optional, and could be substituted with parsley, although if you don’t have either in the fridge or in the garden don’t bother.
Not only is this incredibly delicious, but when you can get dinner on the table almost instantly, it’s a handy recipe to have in your repertoire.
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