09.22.11: dinner (banishing the mean reds with Thursday night TV, bacon-wrapped shrimp and turkey burgers)

Bacon-Wrapped Shrimp

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.

Turkey Burger

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.

Bacon-Wrapped Shrimp

  • 12 jumbo shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • 6 slices thick-cut bacon, halved, or use whole slices of thin-cut bacon
Equipment: toothpicks or skewers, a baking sheet and a cooling rack.
Preheat the oven to 450 degrees and line a baking sheet with foil, placing the cooling rack over it. Line a plate with paper towels and place bacon over it, cover, and microwave on high for 2-2 1/2 minutes to render out some fat but still keep it pliable. Remove, wrap a piece around each shrimp, place on skewer or toothpick and arrange on the cooling rack. Place in oven and cook for 8-10 minutes until bacon is browned and shrimp is opaque; remove from oven, let cool slightly and serve immediately.
Michael’s Almost-As-Good-As-Beef Turkey Burger
Makes 3-4 burgers
  • 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
Mix turkey, shallots, salt, pepper and seasoning together and form into patties, freezing any that are unused. Place on medium-high heat grill pan or Griddler and cook until internal temperature is at least 165 degrees. Top with cheese, onions and any condiments you wish, or none at all.
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5 comments
  1. I love how you do test runs! That’s the way to do it. By the way, that burger…wow. First of all, looks like Godzilla couldn’t even eat it. Secondly, looks so great. Nice work.

    • Thanks! The stakes for this were particularly high given the majesty that is Ron Swanson and his favorite food wrapped around his third-favorite–we had to do the character right. 🙂 Also–have you seen the actual Ron Swanson Turkey Burger that Eater created? THAT is the true Godzilla of burgers.

      (Yes, I know it’s fiction. It’s just damn good fiction!)

  2. Hell yes to the Kerrygold Dubliner! Cheese-a-riffic…wait. Did I just sound like Guy Fieri? Shoot me now.

    Anyways, I do love Kerrygold. You guys always make me smile.

    As for September blues, hang in there. If you recall, last year I had sucktober, suckvember and suckdecember, so you have my utmost sympathy. Let’s kick ass this Fall, shall we? xo

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