The Best Chicken and Shrimp Scampi Recipe
Scampi for more than 3 decades
My original reference for this chicken and shrimp scampi was from Good Housekeeping magazine, October 2002 issue, where it was featured in their “as you requested” section. The magazine featured the recipe in their March 1989 issue, and the letter sender asked for it to be featured again. That is 13 years later! As it sounded interesting, I tried the recipe, and I loved it. Now with a few tweaks, this continued to be one of my favorites, and I am sure that you would love it as well. That’s 19 years for me! So, this recipe has been here for 32 years – at the very least.
What is scampi?
Scampi by definition and etymology refers to an edible lobster. It is also called Dublin Bay Prawn or Norway Lobster, but indeed it belongs to the crustacean class and is not in any way shrimp or prawn. Scampi became a term referring to food that includes one or different crustaceans. You would ask, why “chicken scampi” then? The word scampi now, when used to refer to a dish, meaning cooked in butter.
Origin of Shrimp Scampi
There seems to be no definite info on the origin of the scampi recipe. The word is Italian, however, it was from the Greeks and it means bending. April 29 is National Shrimp Scampi Day in the United States.
Ingredients of Scampi
The basic scampi recipe calls for butter and cream and a couple of spices after salt and pepper. With creativity, experiments and the like, scampi has had gone through different renditions all catering to the tastes of the cook and the palates it tries to please. Posted here is almost the original recipe from the magazine, except for the addition of sliced carrots. It always feels like I have the exact original recipe in my head but with adding one or two ingredients in it, it is, of course, not the original after all. You would forgive me here as it has been one year less than two decades!
So, this recipe is two-fold. One – to make an easy scampi recipe, thanks to its original version. Two – to make a chicken scampi recipe. Whichever between the two is available at the time, and if both are, then we feast with this recipe we are sharing now – with both the chicken and the shrimp.
Scampi is always with tomatoes. Whether fresh or canned, tomatoes play a big role in the taste of this dish. Lots and lots of tomatoes, the flavor of which is enhanced by Italian herbs such as dried oregano, rosemary, basil, and parsley. I had a few times used fresh parsley and fresh basil apart from the mixed seasoning and it always turns out good. The sauces will vary depending on the amount of the ingredients as in many other dishes; the point is, cook with reckless abandon as they say, and you would never go wrong. A confession I should make, though, after a lot of experimenting in the amount and variety of herbs, I keep on going back to the first/original recipe.
Other flavor enhancers can we put on scampi are olive oil or butter, a dash of cooking or white wine, a good sprinkling of dried pepper flakes, and do not forget the ground black pepper (do not overuse this one, though).
Health Benefits of Scampi
Shrimps and chicken breast being the primary ingredients of this recipe, it is already healthy, you would agree. Let’s see the two major ingredients individually and their health benefits:
Made up of protein and water, shrimps have about 100 calories per 100 grams. It has other vitamins and minerals as
well, and low in carbs.
- Chicken breast
The breast is the leanest part of the chicken, therefore low in carbs and calories. It is often dismissed as tasteless, but
quite to the contrary, what you put with it gives you just that taste, and can also be softened by how it is cooked.
How to Cook and Serve the Best Chicken and Shrimp Scampi
Cooking this dish cannot be any easier. To get the best of it, think of fresh shrimps. If you would go for frozen shrimps, I suggest you get the big ones or the prawns. The same with the chicken breast, the fresher you get, the tastier this would be. And as both do not require long cooking time, it is also best to use medium heat while cooking as the shrimps have a tendency to shrink with high heat. The best gauge is when the shrimps turn pink – they are then done.
This is best served with boiled white rice or angel hair pasta. Penne, linguini, or elbow macaroni are just other pasta choices you can also use. Just top the dish onto rice or pasta and serve a few minutes after cooking. My family has tried this with pita bread and it is lovely. Other suggestions I can think of? Boiled potatoes or yams, or blanched vegetables like cauliflower, broccoli, green beans, zucchini. The choices can be endless. Have you tried my cauliflower rice recipe? That would be perfect with scampi!
My husband prefers it with a dash of lemon. And I serve him cauliflower rice almost all the time. My children love this scampi with an adequate amount of shredded or shaved parmesan cheese.
Another lovable thing with this is the use of salt – use it or skip it, this recipe works! Scampi is best served hot.
I have taken this for potluck lunches and dinners. My initial reason is that it is very easy to make. Second, and the more confidence-building reason is “I am sure they would love this!” And I was never wrong. I had shared this recipe – on the spot – with some of my friends. It is a conversation starter!
Store left-over can be kept in a sealed container and in the fridge for about a week. However, if you have already topped it over rice or pasta, it is best to eat leftovers on the same day.
Tips in Cooking Scampi
- Loads of tomatoes, fresh or canned, makes this dish richer. Deseed the tomatoes if you prefer the sauce to be less liquidy.
- Do not overcook garlic as it has a tendency to dominate the taste of the dish. You can omit the garlic, if you wish, but lengthen the cooking time of the onions.
- Replacing vegetable oil with olive oil makes a more aromatic scampi.
- If you fancy more vegetables (like my demanding hubby), blanch them before adding to this dish, except for bell peppers as their natural juice adds to the character.
- After sauteeing the shrimps and they had turned pink, you may want to remove them from the pan, keep them aside and continue with the rest of the steps, then add the shrimps again later. This will prevent the shrimps from being overdone.
- Two ways to reheat: in a cooking casserole over medium heat or baking pan at 200F degrees for a few minutes (I do 15).
Chicken and Shrimp Scampi
- 1 kg chicken, cut to your desired pieces or 1/2kg chicken, breasts, cubed
- 1/2 kg shrimps peeled and deveined
- 3 tbsps. cooking oil
- 3 cloves garlic minced
- 1 small-sized onion chopped
- 2 medium-sized tomato deseeded and chopped
- 1 piece green bell pepper sliced
- 1 piece yellow or red bell pepper sliced
- 1 piece carrot julienned or sliced
- 1/2 cup tomato sauce
- Salt and black pepper to taste
- 1 tbsp. Italian spice
- Sautee garlic and onion in cooking oil and stir for a couple of minutes.
- Add shrimps and cook for a minute then scoop out of the pan.
- Add chicken pieces and cook till the juices come out.
- Add tomatoes and Italian spices and cook stirring occasionally till the chicken are half-done, about 20 minutes.
- Add carrots and tomato sauce then cook covered for another 5 minutes.
- Add salt, black pepper, the shrimps (I have a tendency to forget this here) and all the bell peppers. Stir once and cook for another 5 minutes or till the vegetables are almost wilted.
- Serve hot with steamed white rice or your choice of bread.