I think nearly every single gift I received for Christmas this year was food-related, and I couldn’t be happier about it.  A few of the items were things I had asked for (my All-Clad sauté pan and these cute oven mitts, for example) but probably my favorite gift came from my brother-in-law.  He gave me The New Best Recipe from the editors of Cook’s Illustrated.  This was actually on my list last year but I didn’t get it, and forgot to ask for it again this year.  It was a huge surprise to both of us – to me, because I hadn’t even mentioned that I wanted it to anyone, and to him, because he was taking a shot in the dark when he picked it out.  Well, I don’t think he could have done any better.  This book is even better than I could have imagined.  I’ve already made several recipes from it and each one has been spectacular.  (Can you guess what I’ll be doing for my next giveaway?!)  I am just having so much fun with it!

This was the first recipe I tried from the book, and it made for a great dinner.  Of course, I have yet to meet a shrimp pasta dish that I don’t like, but this was delish!  According to the book, fra diavolo is Italian and means “brother devil”, apparently in reference to the kick provided by the garlic red pepper flakes.  Honestly I didn’t think this was spicy at all and I would double the amount of red pepper flakes next time, but it was still very tasty.  The amount of garlic seems like a ton, and I was hesitant to add it all, but I figured I would try it once and it actually seemed to be just right – garlicky for sure, but not too much.  Two other things I love about this meal are that it involves flambéing (so fun!) and it comes together quickly so it would be fine for a weeknight.  This is a dinner we’ll be returning to very soon :)

  • Yield about 6-8 servings


1 lb. large shrimp (31-40 per lb.), peeled and deveined
1 tsp. red pepper flakes, divided
6 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil, divided
1½ tsp. salt
¼ cup cognac or brandy
12 cloves garlic, minced or pressed through a garlic press (about ¼ cup), divided
½ tsp. sugar
1 (28 oz.) can diced tomatoes, drained
1 cup medium-dry white wine, such as Sauvignon Blanc
¼ cup minced fresh parsley
1 lb. linguine


  • 01

    Bring a large pot of salted water to boil.

  • 02

    Meanwhile, heat a large skillet over high heat until the pan is very hot.  Combine the shrimp, half of the red pepper flakes, 2 tablespoons of the oil, and half of the salt in a medium bowl; toss to blend.  Add the shrimp to the skillet and spread into a single layer.  Let cook without stirring until the bottoms of the shrimp turn a spotty brown, about 30-45 seconds.  Off the heat, flip the shrimp over.  Add the cognac or brandy to the pan.  Let stand briefly to allow the cognac to warm slightly, about 5 seconds, then return the pan to high heat.  Wave a lit match over the skillet until the cognac ignites.  Shake the skillet until the flames subside, then transfer the shrimp to a bowl and set aside.

  • 03

    Cool the skillet for 2 minutes.  Return the skillet to the burner and reduce the heat to low.  Add 3 tablespoons of the oil and 3 tablespoons of the garlic.  Cook, stirring frequently, until the garlic is sticky and light golden and begins to foam, about 7-10 minutes.  Mix in the remaining red pepper flakes, the remaining salt, the sugar, tomatoes and wine.  Increase the heat to medium-high and simmer until thickened and fragrant, about 8 minutes.

  • 04

    While the sauce is simmering, add the linguine to the boiling water and cook according to the package directions until al dente.  Drain, reserving 1/3 cup of the pasta water.  Return the pasta to the now empty pot, add about ½ cup of the sauce and 2-3 tablespoons of the pasta water.  Toss well to coat.

  • 05

    Stir the reserved shrimp and accumulated juices, remaining garlic and the parsley into the sauce.  Simmer until the shrimp are heated through, about 1 minute.  Stir in the remaining 1 tablespoon oil.  Divide the pasta among warmed serving bowls and top with the shrimp and sauce.  Serve immediately.