I cycled with pure ammonia when I started my 55 gal
reef tank. It works exactly the same way. Like you, I didn't like the idea of having to deal with a raw shrimp. It's been so long ago, but I believe I dosed enough ammonia to raise the levels to 3 ppm
on my test kit. After the cycle finished, I simply tested by dumping one small capful of ammonia into the tank and made sure that it could completely break it down within 24 hours. Afterwards, I started performing water changes to bring down the nitrates and introduced a few fish.