September is always a strange month for us, likely because until this year we have always been tied to the academic calendar more than the regular one, so there’s always an undercurrent of change, even if it’s just the arrival of new students on campus. This is the first September since junior year of college in which neither of us live near or on a college campus, and I think that change has thrown both of us into serious funk. (Not to mention that it’s getting darker earlier and, well, that sucks too.) It’s why we haven’t been prolific for much of the month, but I declared that yesterday would mark the start of Operation: Abolish Mean Reds.
It’s a multi-tactical plan that has unwittingly been in place for weeks: with the new season of our favorite shows finally starting up again, I had declared that we would mark the occasion properly by having a meal that was a nod to Parks and Recreation thanks to that show’s unabashed love of food. Just check out this montage dedicated to Ron Swanson’s dedication to steak, eggs and bacon to see what I mean.
Should you be surprised that bacon-wrapped shrimp were on the menu? Turkey burgers were too–but no salads. Salads are for rabbits. (This is what I told Michael when he got out the arugula to wash it–and he actually listened to me! I credit not eschewing salad on a regular basis for this exception.)
I’ll admit that the temptation was there to make waffles and douse them with whipped cream, but let’s be frank: not only do we not own a waffle maker, but the process seemed a bit fussy for a gloomy Thursday evening. We wanted to indulge but still remember that it was a weeknight and dinner needed to come together with some relative ease–given our moods lately I don’t think “complicated” was a word either one of us wanted to deal with in the kitchen. So I found some gorgeous Gulf shrimp Thursday morning at Whole Foods and left work to get things going as quickly as possible. Thanks to a test run on Sunday to try out the technique I had a good idea of how I wanted to do them, with the hope that they would be in the oven cooking by the time Michael got home so he could get to work on the burgers.
Thanks to some lamb tikka masala from earlier in the week he had some leftovers of the spice mix he made for it and those, along with some salt, crushed red pepper and breadcrumbs mixed in with the turkey and yielded a pleasantly-spiced burger that still paired well with my belovedKerrygold Dubliner cheddar and some ketchup and mustard. The only thing preventing me from enjoying the whole thing was enjoying the shrimp-wrapped bacon a little too much (fortunately, that’s why leftovers exist).
This wasn’t our most elegant meal by half, even for a weekday, but after a week of us both being a little crankier than usual it was nice to work together in the kitchen in a semblance of harmony, which was pretty effective in lifting our spirits. The cava I poured out to toast the memory of a friend helped even more, but I think laughing our asses off for a solid hour-and-a-half was what shoved the mean reds right out the door.
- 12 jumbo shrimp, peeled and deveined
- 6 slices thick-cut bacon, halved, or use whole slices of thin-cut bacon
- 1lb ground turkey
- 2 shallots, minced
- 2 tablespoons breadcrumbs
- Kosher salt
- Crushed red pepper
- Michael’s spice mix (I would start here for inspiration and adjust to your taste)
- 1/2 cup grated cheese (I like cheddar, particularly New York XX Extra Sharp and Kerrygold Dubliner)
- Rolls (we splurged and got our favorite onion rolls even though they aren’t the perfect shape)
- Arugula or spinach
- Condiments you prefer