Shrimp Timbales with a Pepper Sauce

Here is one of those recipes that is both simple and complex. The result is a quartet of rich but delicate timbales, or small, firm custards. Once I feel that I've mastered the basic technique, I'm going to experiment with substitutions. Salmon and fresh peas, for example. I may even try once again to recreate the sublime bavarois de poivron that Kathleen had at Vivarois, a restaurant in the Avenue Victor Hugo (16ième). 

A pleasant dinner for two, this would be a gala first course for four, although, as Kathleen says, nobody would want to eat the main course.

Some dishes practically put themselves together at the last minute. My ham steak is like that, and so is another recipe that I ought to write up, filet mignon in blue cheese sauce. Other dishes, such as proper lobster bisque, use up every utensil in the kitchen. This recipe lies in between. There's a bit of prepping, a brief baking, and the cooking and puréeing of a sauce. There is the baking pan full of hot water to remove carefully from the oven (ouch!), and the custard mold(s) to flip.

The original of this recipe, which is in Gourmet's In Short Order, calls for a combination of red and green bell pepper for the timbale, and red pepper for the sauce. As we don't care for green pepper at all, I substitute orange pepper for the green, and sometimes for the red as well. All red would be fine, too. Yellow pepper makes the prettiest sauce. I also prefer to purée the peppers in the timbales.

Shrimp Timbales with a Pepper Sauce.


For the timbales

1/2 cup chopped bell pepper

3/4 pound shrimp, shelled and deveined

1 large egg

3/4 cup chilled heavy cream

1 teaspoon salt.

For the sauce

1 cup finely chopped bell pepper

1 tablespoon minced shallot

2 tablespoons unsalted butter

1/2 cup heavy cream

parsley sprigs for garnish.

Make the timbales: Blanch the chopped pepper in a large saucepan of boiling water for three minutes. Drain it, refresh it in cold water, and pat it dry. In a food processor, purée the shrimp with the egg, the cream, and the salt until the mixture is coarse. Fold in the bell peppers, and purée further.

Divide the mixture among four well-buttered molds (custard cups or such), place them in a baking pan and cover with a sheet of buttered foil. Pour enough hot water in the pan to reach halfway up the sides of the timbales and bake at 350º for fifteen minutes, or until a skewer comes out clean.

Make the sauce: Cook the chopped pepper and shallot in the butter, covered, until the vegetables soften. Add cream, and boil the sauce until it thickens. Then purée it well.

Carefully remove the baking pan from the oven. Drain the water and flip the pan onto a a chopping board. remove the molds and use a spatula to transfer the timbales to two plates. Bathe with sauce, garnish with parsley, and serve at once. (June 2007)

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