Shrimp with Tomatoes, Feta and Ouzo

  • 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons minced garlic
  • 2 (28-ounce) cans Italian plum tomatoes, crushed with your hands, with juices
  • 1/2 cup bottled clam juice or seasoned shrimp stock
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons minced fresh oregano leaves
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons minced fresh thyme leaves
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1/4 cup drained small capers
  • Salt and pepper
  • 5 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2 pounds raw large shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • 1/2 cup ouzo
  • 1/2 pound Greek or Bulgarian Feta cheese, crumbled
  • Hot crusty peasant-style bread, for serving

In a large saucepan heat the olive oil and, when hot, add the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add the tomatoes, clam juice, oregano, thyme, crushed red pepper, and capers, and cook until the sauce is thickened and reduced by half in volume, 20 to 25 minutes. Season, to taste, with salt and pepper and set aside.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Heat the butter in a large skillet until it begins to foam. Add the shrimp and cook, stirring occasionally, until they just begin to turn pink. Remove pan from heat, and add ouzo. Return pan to the heat and shake carefully to ignite the alcohol. Season lightly with salt, to taste. Remove from the heat. Do not overcook; shrimp should not be cooked through at this point.

Add the sauce to a large casserole dish or individual gratin dishes. Nestle the shrimp down in the sauce and crumble the feta evenly over the top. Bake for 12 to 15 minutes, or until shrimp are cooked through and the sauce is hot and bubbly. Remove from the oven and serve immediately, with pieces of crusty bread for dipping.