Sunday, March 20, 2011

Smoked Bacon Wrapped Shrimp with Vanilla Bean Gastrique and Pan Roasted Vegetables

     Smoked bacon is nice with the flavor of shrimp!  Vanilla bean gastrique is a good sauce for smoked bacon wrapped shrimp.  The flavor combination of this entree is gentle and comfortable.
     The pan roasted vegetables are a nice simple accompaniment for this entree.  It is important that the gastrique should taste like a true gastrique and not like a sweet like a sweet syrup.  The vanilla gastrique should have a balance of lightly caramelized sugar savory flavor and a light vinegar zesty accent with a rich vanilla bean taste.
     A gastrique can be made with hard crack stage sugar to caramelized sugar and any stage in between.  Once sugar reaches the hard crack stage, much of the sweet flavor is neutralized.  A gastrique does not have to have a dark caramelized color to be a gastrique!
     A gastrique is a digestive aid and thyme is an herb that aids digestion.  Shallot, vinegar and wine add to the digestive effect.  Salt and pepper gives a savory balance.  A gastrique only requires the addition of demi glace or glace viande for certain applications.  
     I must admit that vanilla beans are overpriced these days.  Four vanilla beans cost almost as much as a filet mignon steak!  Pure unsweetened vanilla bean extract is a good substitute for vanilla beans at a fraction of the price.
     Vanilla Bean Gastrique:  
     This vanilla gastrique recipe make 2 to 4 portions, depending on the serving size.  I posted a smoked bacon wrapped filet mignon steak recipe that calls for this same vanilla bean gastrique, so save a little bit for that recipe!
     Place 2 cups of water in a sauce pot over high heat.
     Add 3/4 cup of sugar.  
     Bring the liquid to a boil.
     Boil and reduce the liquid, till the water evaporates and the sugar begins to rapidly bubble and cook like a syrup.  (Use caution, boiling sugar can cause very severe burns!)
     Watch the sugar as it cooks.  When the sugar starts to turn an amber color, then have the scraped vanilla bean pod flesh or the vanilla extract ready at hand.
     When the sugar turns from a yellow amber color to an amber brown color, immediately add the vanilla bean scrapings from 2 vanilla beans or 2 teaspoons of pure vanilla extract.
     Let the amber brown sugar "seize" the vanilla for a few seconds.
     Add 1 1/2 ounces of rice vinegar.
     Add 1/2 cup of dry white wine.
     Add 1/4 cup of water.
     Add sea salt.
     Add 1 small pinch of thyme.
     Add 1 pinch of white pepper.
     Reduce the temperature to low heat.
     Simmer and reduce the gastrique, till it becomes a thin syrup like consistency.
     The gastrique should be able to lightly glaze the back of a spoon.
     Pour the gastrique through a fine mesh strainer into a cup or bowl.
     Keep the vanilla gastrique warm on a stove top.

     Pan Roasted Vegetables:
     The bacon wrapped shrimp can be started after the vegetables are placed into the oven!
     Blanch 4 ounces of russet potato that is cut into small bite size cubes in salted boiling water.
     Cool the potato cubes under cold running water and set them aside.
     Heat a saute pan over medium/medium low heat.
     Add 2 slices of smoked bacon.
     Blanch the bacon on both sides, till it is half way cooked and not brown or crisp at all.  The bacon should be blanched, till the fat streaks turn clear.
     Set the blanched bacon strips aside.
     Later in the recipe, the blanched smoked bacon will be used to wrap the shrimp!
     Leave the small amount of bacon grease in the pan.  (About 1/2 tablespoon.)
     Add 1 small splash of olive oil.
     Raise the temperature to medium heat.
     Place 2 slices of bermuda onion in the pan that are about 3/8" thick.
     Add 5 thick slices of zucchini.
     Add 6 thick sliced small portabella mushroom.
     Add the blanched cube shaped potatoes.
     Add 5 thick slices of green bell pepper.
     Add sea salt and black pepper.
     Just minimally saute and toss the vegetables in the pan occasionally, till they start to cook.
     Add 1 pinch of oregano.
     Add 3 pinches of chopped fresh dill weed.
     Toss the ingredients together.
     Place the vegetables into a 350ยบ degree oven.
     Roast the vegetables, till brown highlights appear.
     Set the vegetables on plate on a stove top and keep them warm.
     Smoked Bacon Wrapped Shrimp:
     Cut the 2 reserved blanched bacon strips in half.
     Peel and devein 4 large shrimp.  Leave the tails on the shrimp.
     Wrap a blanched half strip of the smoked bacon around each of the shrimp.
     Fasten the bacon wrapping to the shrimp with toothpicks.
     Place the smoked bacon wrapped shrimp on a broiler pan.
     Lightly season the shrimp with sea salt and black pepper.
     Sprinkle 1 pinch of ground mild red chile pepper over the bacon wrapped shrimp.
     Place the pan and the shrimp under a broiler that is set to a low flame.
     Flip the shrimp a few times, so they cook evenly.
     Slowly broil the shrimp, till they become fully cooked and the smoked bacon becomes lightly browned.  Try not to overcook the shrimp in the broiler or they will become dry!
     Smoked Bacon Wrapped Shrimp with Vanilla Bean Gastrique and Pan Roasted Vegetables:
     Place a mound of the grilled vegetables on the back center of a plate.
     Place the smoked bacon wrapped shrimp around the front of the vegetables on the plate.
     Garnish the plate with lemon slices and a dill sprig.
     Spoon some of the vanilla bean gastrique over the smoked bacon wrapped shrimp.
     The smoked bacon combines with the shrimp to create an old fashioned east coast seafood restaurant flavor.  The vanilla gastrique is a nice modern flavor for smoked bacon wrapped shrimp!  A properly made vanilla gastrique does not taste sweet, like vanilla pancake syrup, bot the color is nearly the same.  The rustic flavor of pan roasted vegetables is a good choice for this entree.  Yum!  ...  Shawna

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