Saturday, April 27, 2013

Shrimp in Garlic, Bacon, Mushroom Tomato Sauce

I love wilted greens. For some reason, something about slightly limp lettuce warmed by some kind of sauteed meat in a sauce appeals to me. I think it's a texture thing. I also love shrimp. So it would only make perfect sense in my head to put these two things together. Check out this recipe for something quick and refreshing as the weather gets warmer (or stays exactly the same here in Hawaii).

The lower left corner is my homemade bacon!
And tomato paste and coconut milk are not pictured.
The lemon just showed up there, uninvited.
You will need:
1/4c. chopped up bacon, or some other meat like steak or a pork chop (not cooked)*

3/4c. chopped up mushrooms (also tiny squares)
1tbsp butter (more if using non-fatty meat like steak)
Three sprigs of fresh basil
1.5 tsp crushed garlic, or 2-3 cloves finely minced
1/2 tsp fresh ground pepper
1lb. shrimp, shelled and cut into chunks
3tbsp (roughly half a can) tomato paste
1/2c coconut milk (in a can or in a carton, but none of this "lite" junk)
fresh greens or other vegetables like zucchini noodles

*If you use steak or pork, make sure you get a fairly marbled or fatty cut, leaner cuts will dry out and become too chewy. Try a porterhouse steak or a pork shoulder blade steak.

Take your chopped up bacon and put it in a pan over medium heat. When the bacon is about half way cooked and on its way to being nice and crispy, put in the mushrooms and the butter. Mushrooms seem to suck up a ton of oil when they cook, so rather than have your pan dry, add the oil. If you are some kind of lunatic and you don't like butter (especially the good stuff from Kerry Gold, they probably give their cows Guinness over there too, luckiest damn cows), you can use coconut oil instead.

When everybody is crispy in the pan, add half the basil. As you can see in this picture, I have some crazy basil plants, and I haven't harvested them like I should. Technically you should trim the basil before it flowers. All of the energy and flavor stored in the plant goes into making it bloom rather than producing green and flavorful leaves. So technically, these basil leaves will be kind of bland. I don't use basil often enough to warrant doing this, so I just use the flowers like I would basil leaves, and voila. Defreakinglicious. Add the garlic and ground pepper and continue to toss around the pan.

Throw the shrimp into the mix. This is starting to get good. Fast.

Now you can add the coconut milk and tomato paste. Turn the heat down low, whisking in the tomato paste so it begins to thicken the coconut milk and make a sauce. Simmer this for five minutes or until your sauce is thick enough to make you the happiest person ever. I'm easily amused so it only took five minutes.

Put some lettuce on a plate and spoon your mixture over it. The heat of the sauce will wilt the lettuce but keep it crunchy. A great mix of flavors and textures, this dish is probably the best thing I've made in a long time. And it's ridiculously easy. Sometimes I amaze myself. And I already know I'm pretty awesome.

**UPDATE I checked on my pickles. I didn't weigh them down, and they molded. Overnight. So, make sure you keep your cucumbers sunk, or they will be moldy, and you will throw them away lest you get food poisoning.**


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