Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Bacon-Wrapped Shrimp

Happy Election Day! I highly encourage everyone, who is eligible, to exercise your right to vote. Even if you believe that your vote can't change anything, take advantage of the fact that you are in a country where you are allowed to participate in at least a piece of the decision-making process.

And today's recipe is Ron Swanson's #1 favorite food wrapped around his #3 favorite food: BACON-WRAPPED SHRIMP!
That's a Parks & Recreation reference, which is a great show, by the way, and definitely worth watching. It's available on Netflix so you can catch up and NBC lets you watch new episodes online (for free). Listen to me, I sound like an advertisement. I'm not forcing you to watch; I'm just letting you know that I enjoy it and that you might too. But anyway, why am I posting about bacon-wrapped shrimp on Election Day? Ron Swanson works for the government and he's a libertarian and I'm sure he'd make a point of exercising his right to vote.

Anyway, bacon-wrapped shrimp is a super simple and quick recipe that's great for entertaining. It's awesome because you only need a few ingredients and it cooks up really fast and it looks impressive. If you are throwing a party for vegetarians, vegans, and/or people who keep kosher, this is NOT the recipe for you. But, if you are awesome and you love bacon, then read on.

Ingredients [makes 1 dozen]
6 pieces of thin-sliced bacon
1 dozen jumbo shrimp
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
12 toothpicks
Make sure your shrimp are completely peeled and de-veined. If you didn't know this, that "vein" is its digestive tract and it's full of its waste, maybe some sand, and other gunk. And I don't know about you, but I'd prefer not to eat that. Then sprinkle with cayenne pepper. Why cayenne? I like a little bit of spiciness and I think it complements both the shrimp and the bacon really well. If you're not a fan, you can definitely omit it or you could use garlic salt or sweet paprika or even some chopped herbs - whatever you like. And I like to season the shrimp, not the bacon because 1) bacon is already so flavorful and 2) you don't want to burn the seasoning by leaving it exposed on the surface of the bacon.

Next, cut the bacon pieces in half and wrap around each shrimp, kind of like you're mummifying it, except with bacon. Then skewer the shrimp with a toothpick to make sure the bacon stays in place while it's cooking. You could also use long kebab skewers and stab a whole bunch at once, it's really up to you.
Don't they look cute? They remind me of little shells.
To cook these bad boys, I used a cast iron skillet because you can crank the heat and it'll really get hot (and won't kill birds the way teflon pans do). So first, crank the heat on high and give the pan a minute or two to get super hot. Then place each shrimp on the pan and let it cook on the first side for 3 minutes, until the bacon starts to brown and get crisp. Then flip each piece over and cover the pan with aluminum foil (or use a lid if you have one) and continue cooking the shrimp for another 3 minutes. The purpose of the lid is two-fold: 1) cooking on the first side has rendered a lot of the bacon fat and the lid will harness some of the oil splatter from getting all over your stovetop and 2) cooking on the first side has sucked a lot of the heat out of the pan so the lid helps hold more heat in, helping the second side to also get some color without overcooking the shrimp. Once they're done, remove the shrimp and place on a paper towel to drain any excess grease.
By the way, don't waste the lovely rendered bacon fat. It's a great way to cook up some vegetables.
Here's the finished product! You can definitely remove the skewers before serving and the bacon will stay put (unless you purposefully peel it off) but I like leaving them in because I'm lazy. Plus, you can grab the toothpick with your fingers and eat this thing with your hands.

And here's the recipe page if you need it:

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