Friday, November 5, 2010

Zingerman's Bacon of the Month Club: Nueske's Applewood Smoked Bacon! Plus Recipe for Sauteed Shrimp with Bacon Succotash!

Sauteed Shrimp with Bacon Succotash
Great food can enter our lives in many different ways.

Kuzak and I were recently graced with what might be the best wedding gift ever -- Zingerman's Bacon of the Month Club (thank you Gruhl family). Even Bobby Flay is quoted calling this is a "fantastic gift!"

For those of you who are unfamiliar with Zingerman's, a humble deli in Ann Arbor, Michigan, I consider them to be the epitome of great food. Their standards of excellence apply to everything they do, and that includes their bacon club.

Here are the offerings:

Three Installments
Month 1: Applewood Smoked
Month 2: Kentucky Dry Cured
Month 3: Arkansas Peppered
Six Installments
Everything above, plus
Month 4: Virginia Dry Cured
Month 5: Tennesse Dry Cured
Month 6: Long Pepper

It's going to be a long and bacony ride! And doesn't bacon make everything better?

Our first shipment arrived, packed with dry ice -- Nueske's Applewood Smoked Bacon, thick and smokey, the love child of a small family operation in Wisconsin that dates back to the late 1800's. If calibrating for bacon, this would be the  standard against which all other bacons should be compared.

Nueske's Smoked Bacon
On the first go-round, I cooked up the bacon in a cast iron skillet, and served it for a lazy weekend breakfast along with Cornmeal and Raspberry Pancakes (recipe coming soon). Is there anything that tastes better than thick cut bacon dipped in the maple syrup that drips off your pancakes? If so, I have yet to discover it.

Cornmeal and Raspberry Pancakes
For the next go-round, I decided to get a little more creative. I'd recently picked up fresh lima beans and the last of late summer corn from the Hollywood Farmers Market. These ingredients practically begged to be made into a succotash. To jazz it up, I added a red bell pepper and started the succotash with two strips of bacon. I served the succotash with some wild caught, Santa Barbara black shrimp from my local fisherman. A cinch to make, this dish was dazzling. The smokey bacon flavor added depth to the shrimp and veggies.

Bacon Succotash in Cast Iron Skillet
For the final go-round, I had to make BLT's, truly one of my favorite sandwiches. I made mine with heirloom tomatoes (god bless California and its exceptionally long growing season), organic romaine lettuce, and organic mayo all served on sourdough bread from the farmers market. Oh yeah, that was the stuff!

And then it was over. Sob. I guess I have to wait for the next shipment -- Kentucky Dry Cured!

Oh, and on a bacon note, I'm headed to Des Moines at the end of the month for Thanksgiving, and plan to sneak in a trip to visit La Quercia! As it so happens, two of their products are featured in the bacon club -- their guanciale and pancetta. I can't wait...

Sauteed Shrimp with Bacon Succotash (featuring Nueske's Applewood Smoked Bacon from Zingerman's Bacon of the Month Club)
Serves 4 people
Cooking time: 30 minutes
Print Recipe

2 pounds shrimp, peeled and deveined
1/2 teaspoon pimenton (smoked paprika)
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 garlic cloves, peeled and finely chopped
1/2 cup dry white wine
salt and pepper

bacon succotash:
2 ears corn (about 1 1/2 cups), kernals removed
1 bell pepper, seeded and chopped
1 cup lima beans (fresh are best, but frozen work)
1 shallot, peeled and chopped
2 slices thick-cut applewood smoked bacon, chopped
pinch of cayenne
salt and pepper

If working with fresh lima beans, cover with water, 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil and a bay leaf and bring to a boil. Simmer until tender (about 20 minutes). Drain and set aside for the succotash.

To make the succotash, cook the bacon in a cast iron skillet or saute pan over medium heat under the fat is rendered and it's beginning to brown. Add the shallot and saute for about two to three minutes, until beginning to soften. Then, add the bell pepper and corn. Continue to cook until tender. Add the lima beans and a pinch of cayenne if desired, stirring to combine. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Meanwhile, toss the shrimp with the pimenton, salt, and pepper. Heat the olive oil over medium high heat. Add the garlic and saute for about one minute, until beginning to brown. Add the shrimp and quickly saute it until cooked through (about 3-4 minutes, depending on size). Do not overcook.

To make a quick reduction sauce, remove the shrimp  and add the white wine to the saute pan, scraping up the browned bits from the bottom to deglaze the pan. Continue to simmer for a few minutes, until reduced by half. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

To plate, spoon the succotash onto the plate and top with some shrimp. Spoon the white whine reduction sauce over the plate. Top with a little fresh cracked pepper. Enjoy!

Source for Ingredients
wild caught Santa Barbara black shrimp, organic corn, organic bell pepper, shallots, garlic, and organic lima beans from Hollywood Farmers Market

Nueske's Applewood Smoked Bacon from Zingerman's Bacon of the Month Club

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