Fregola with Shrimp and Tomatoes

OH, what a weird time in my life, though maybe they've all been weird? The point is that whatever specific space it is that I need available in order to commit to trying new recipes is so so hard to come by. Even this attempt you see here is highly fraught with almost not happening at all. But after reading through this recipe months ago, I'd already made the action step of purchasing some fregola. Then, this Sunday when I was at the butcher's, the shrimp looked so pretty. I knew we had some of Matt's chicken stock in the freezer, and so I bought the expensive shrimp and figured I could make some version of this recipe happen. Some version is key because if you compare the recipe below to the original Milk Street one, you'll see many differences. (Like, I didn't have the two bottles of clam juice. Instead, I simmered the onion in some white wine. I also used canned tomato instead of fresh and left out the carrot altogether.)
What else is going on? Well, I was almost hoodwinked into writing a pretty cheesy (figuratively) cookbook AND doing the entire marketing campaign for a very, very paltry paycheck. After they approached me for the project, and after several calls, NDA signings, and a clear promise that I was simply the hired writer, they pulled a bait-and-switch and were basically like: SORRY! On second thought, now that we're ready to go and sign this contract, we've decided it's a package deal. You have to do all the marketing toooooo. Mind you, the marketing requirements outlined in the final contract were, to put it mildly: insane.

In an attempt to communicate like a human being and not some business robot, I sent the individual I was dealing with the following message:

I'm sorry but I really don’t want to engage in the marketing. There’s a great NYT piece about the soul-crushing work that is selling your own writing / self after having written the thing and I just can’t do it for [x amount of money]. If you’re curious, here's the link: https://www.nytimes.com/2018/11/24/opinion/sunday/gig-economy-self-promotion-anxiety.html?action=click&module=Opinion&pgtype=Homepage

Long story short: I feel super grateful that I could and did turn them down. Moving forward, I wish the company nothing but the worst. Well, I dont know if that's true--wishing them the worst--but they're stupid and bad and I can't say their name here though I wish I could.
ANYWAY. For Mom Rage, my co-host Edan booked the journalist Virginia Sole-Smith who wrote The Eating Instinct. I started the book out of duty and in order to be a good interviewer, but I tore right through it, nodding my head as I read and occasionally gasping at all of the ways we've messed things up when it comes to eating and diets and weight. At the same time, I also felt an overwhelming gratitude for this old blog, which pushed me to cook and interrogate food culture, and which eventually gave way to a kind of healing.

As they say in stand-up comedy: WELL, That's my time! See you in four to eight months?? Maybe I can pull together a gift guide...

Fregola with Shrimp and Tomatoes adapted from Milk Street

1 to 1 1/2 pounds extra-large shrimp, peeled (shells reserved), deveined and patted dry
1/2 cup white wine
4 cups chicken broth
4 bay leaves
1 tablespoon black peppercorns
salt and pepper
1 14 or 15 oz. can chopped or crushed tomatoes
1 medium yellow onion, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped.
1 cup fregola
lemon juice
1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley (optional)
grated Parmesan (optional and most likely controversial for some)

In a medium stockpot, combine the shrimp shells, broth, bay, and peppercorns. Bring it to a boil and then simmer for four to five minutes, until the shrimp shells are nice and pink. Pour through a fine-mesh strainer set over a bowl; discard the solids int eh strainer.

Season the shrimp with salt and pepper. In a large pot over medium-high (I re-used the stockpot here), heat one tablespoon of the oil until barely smoking. Add half the shrimp and cook without stirring until well browned, two to 3 minutes. Transfer to a large plate. Repeat with another 1 tablespoon oil and the remaining shrimp. 

Return the pot to medium-high. Add 1 tablespoon of the remaining oil. Add the onion and a big pinch of salt and cook until softened, 3 to 5 minutes. Pour in the white wine and garlic and simmer until most of the liquid has cooked down.

Add the fregola and stir a few times before adding 2 cups of the shrimp broth. Bring to a simmer and then reduce to medium and cook, stirring, until most of the liquid is absorbed, 8 to 10 minutes. Stir in another cup or so of the broth, return to a simmer and cook, stirring, until most of the liquid is again absorbed, about 8 to 10 minutes. Stir in the remaining cup of broth and cook, stirring constantly, until the fregola is tender and creamy but not soupy, 6 to 8 minutes. 

Off heat, stir in the shrimp and juices, remaining 1 tablespoon oil, lemon juice and parsley. Cover and let stand until the shrimp are opaque throughout, 5 to 7 minutes. Taste and season with salt and pepper. (We added grated Parmesan to our bowls and loved it.)


Matthew said...

We're overdue for a new tip vid? Glad you're not doing that book! xoxo

Glamranda said...

Really miss this!

Lydia said...

Was going to comment on the gram but a blogspot comment feels so innocent right now. As always, love your writing and was excited to make my way here! And wish you could whisper the name of those dinks!

Carol Adams said...

Always happy to see a post from you. Miss you but get my fix from Mom Rage. A gift guide list would certainly be a plus.

Amelia Morris said...

@Lydia A quick riddle: What's better than a comment on blogspot?... A REPLY to a comment on blogspot! hi!

@Glamranda and @Carol Adams: thanks for missing me. IF ONLY I could have turned this site into an empire!

Lisa said...

My dad is publishing a book in Feb. and I have been astounded at how much of the heavy lifting the publisher expects him to do to promote the thing. The reason why people (and book companies) have PR is to remove the awkwardness of the journalist having to tell the author directly that they don't want to feature the book, or they will, but will the writer be willing to discuss X subject... I get the idea of engaging your network, but being responsible for driving the marketing campaign itself seems like you're just using the publisher as a printing press. It's all so exhausting.

On a separate but related topic, I'd be curious to hear you talk on Mom Rage about the fine art of cooking delicious soul food for yourselves as adults and what Teddy and Isaac eat and how you juggle that all. I understand the ideal is for everyone to eat the same meals but does that really happen for many families with little kiddos?!

Amelia Morris said...

@Lisa hi! I seriously doubt you'll see this, BUT: We did tackle that subject on the podcast during season 1... The episode is called "Living in the Rut" Episode 16: https://www.momragepodcast.com/season1

And in a few weeks you'll probably want to hear our interview with Virginia Sole-Smith (author of the The Eating Instinct)!

Amrita said...

Loved this recipe! And love your book! I never actually comment and now that I think of it, I don't actually know why. Oh well, here we are. Love your blog!

LindseyG said...

Good for you for standing up for yourself and the value of your time. And shame on them for attempting to flip the script on you in the 11th hour! They messed with the wrong mama [insert dramatic finger wagging].

Your word choice describing the experience was most excellent and had me cackling at my laptop. Soooooo, thanks for the laugh!

Can't wait to try, hopefully not butcher, this recipe!

Lindsey G.

Dani Elis said...

This looks delish! I too need to try more new recipes and post about them... I make the same things again and again recently - I'm turning into my mother! :O (nooooooooo)

Glad you turned the book down even though you'd of had a pre-order right here :) WIll just have to re-read your memoir!

Making the eggplant and porcini meatball recipe from your blog tonight xx