Since the Christmas Bacon Log was such a success, when my wife was trying to decide what she wanted for her birthday dinner, I suggested a “Bacon-Shrimp” Log. Christine likes anything with shrimp and the idea of a bacon-shrimp log appealed to her, so this is a record of us setting about making it.
One of the improvements we had decided upon at Christmas was to combine the non-bacon ingredients into one layer. This necessitated chopping them finer and mixing (in that recipe) the ingredients with the sausage. That will probably also require the addition of an egg to keep everything together. In hindsight as I type this, that might have been a good idea (the egg) here too.
Another improvement that was more happenstance than plan was that this package of bacon was narrower. For the Christmas log, we had 7 by 7 strips of bacon with 2 strips left over (which we used on the ends). For this log, I was able to make the bacon mat with 6 double-long strips by 7 strips. I left more spacing between the strips as well.
Remember that preparing the bacon mat requires that you partially cook the bacon. In my experience, in my 1200 watt microwave, one pound of bacon, layered in paper towel is properly partially cooked by cooking it for 4 minutes on 100% power. The goal is to make the bacon somewhat stiff by removing the water without making it brittle (which happens when you render the fat). One pound of bacon will make 3 or 4 layers this way (paper towel between each). Remember to use good quality paper towel as the cheap stuff will stick to the bacon.
Before we go further, here’s my list of ingredients:
- 1 lb bacon. Select your bacon with care; nice regular slices work best
- 2 lb shrimp, shelled, deveined and diced.
- 1/2 yellow and 1/2 red sweet pepper, diced.
- 3 small onions, diced.
- 1/2 lb Havarti cheese, shredded.
- 1/2 lb button mushrooms, diced.
- 4 cloves garlic, minced.
- 2 heaping teaspoons paprika (we used hungarian)
- some oregano
- salt and pepper to taste
The bacon needs to be prepared as above. Once you have the partially cooked bacon, you need to weave your mat. The easiest way I’ve found to do this is to fold back the bacon that will go “over” the next cross strip and then to place the cross strip. When you come to the end of the length-wise strips, overlap the next strip by about 1.5 bacon widths.
Pretty much everything but the shrimp and the cheese is going into the frying pan. Again here, we’re primarily eliminating the water, but I find that the garlic and paprika flavors are more mellow when stir fried than when they are just fresh. In my case, I put the mushrooms and garlic in first (as they take a little longer) and added the peppers, onion and spices in second. I used a splash of olive oil here to lubricate things, but in a sufficiently non-stick pan, none might be necessary.
Let the pan and the stuff cool for awhile — if they’re too hot, they’ll melt the cheese which will make things somewhat harder for this step. In fact, we made the bacon mat while the veggies cooled.
Now you want to combine the stir fry with the shredded cheese and shrimp. This can be done in a large mixing bowl. You want to do this step right before you use it as the raw seafood probably shouldn’t be in contact with the other ingredients more than is necessary before cooking.
This mixture is then spread on the bacon mat about 1/4 inch deep. In hindsight, it may have been a good idea to add a raw egg or two to the mixture to give it more integrity, but here, with the shrimp (which is a bit gooey) and no egg, you can see we’ve tightly packed the mixture into a layer on the bacon log.
Now comes the rolling of the log. For the Christmas log, we had four hands rolling the log and it was substantially less densely packed. We also only barely achieved one roll there. Here, in my first video, you can see we get about 1.5 rolls and I managed to do it myself while Christine runs the camera (the magical n900 from other posts).
Once you roll your log, you’re going to want to carefully move it to a baking pan. We recommend using a rack to keep the log out of it’s own drippings. In our case, we had a rack that came with our baking pan. Set your oven on 350F.
I did a little research on cooking temperatures for shrimp. One article claimed that a minimum safe cooking temperature for Shrimp was 85F. Most other articles used either “5 to 9 minutes in boiling water” (not helpful) or 145F. We used an oven thermometer to measure the internal temperature of the log and baked it about 45 minutes — taking it out when the thermometer read 145F.
My biggest worry was that the shrimp on the outside of the log would be overcooked because we had to achieve the right temperature at the center of the log for the shrimp to be cooked. This wasn’t the case, however, as the shrimp near the outside were constantly basted in bacon fat — and basically turned into shrimp candy.
Carving the log was in big wide pieces… partially because the interior of the log had low structural integrity and partially because the log’s contents where the meal. As we’ve mentioned several times, adding an egg or two to the goop might make thinner slices possible.
I’d like to thank and shout-out to the Republic of Bacon. They’re an inspiration to us all and their post on the bacon log concept inspired this attempt.