Thursday, June 27, 2013

Shrimp and Bacon Cabbage Rolls… and My Favorite Secret Ingredient

Ok, I guess writing about it on my blog makes the "secret" ingredient a "not-so-secret" ingredient, but it's so good I just had to share it.  One of my favorite things to use while cooking in the kitchen is… bacon drippings.  You know, the oily, fatty goodness left in the pan after you cook your bacon. Pure flavor!  In fact, I might just start calling it that, because it has a certain ring to it... "Add 1 Tablespoon of pure flavor."  Yep, I like it.

Now, some of you are thinking, "Yes! This girl is a bacon genius!"  But others are cringing because all they can think of is, "Ew, fat, fat, fat, fat, fat, fat…fat!"  I know I've mentioned it before in a previous post, but don't fear the fat.  Your body is made up of about 60% fat (which, if following a primal/paleo lifestyle, is the same percentage of your macronutrient intake that should come from fat…Coincidence?)  So, if the majority your body is made up of fat (and in important places like, you know, your brain and the membranes of your cells) wouldn't you want to give your body the building blocks it needs to thrive?  I would hope so… But enough with the lecture on fat!

I initially made this recipe as more of a shrimp salad "wrap" using romaine lettuce leaves for a quick meal before darting off somewhere… But when I tasted it, I started brainstorming more fun things I could do with the shrimp mixture.  I thought about it for a while and then came up with a technique I hadn't tried yet involving cabbage, and this recipe came to be.  The cabbage leaves are boiled to make them more pliable and they essentially take the place of wonton wrappers, rice paper, tortillas, or anything else you would stuff with food.  It's definitely a neat paleo way to eat a burrito-esque food while bypassing the gluten attack from a tortilla.  Of course, the shrimp salad mixture itself would be just as delicious on a fresh lettuce or cabbage leaf, by itself, or even surf-and-turf style on top of a steak (in fact, maybe you should do that instead...because everything is better with steak!).

Shrimp and Bacon Cabbage Rolls

• 8 cabbage leaves
• 6 ounces cooked shrimp, chopped
• ½ avocado, cubed
• 12 grape tomatoes, chopped
• 2 green onions, chopped
• 1 Tablespoon chopped fresh cilantro
• 2 slices bacon, cooked and chopped
• 2 teaspoons reserved bacon fat
• 2 Tablespoons mayonnaise (recipe here)
• ¼ teaspoon salt
• ¼ teaspoon chipotle chili powder
• a pinch of black pepper

1. Place a large pot of salted water on the stove to boil over medium heat.  When the water reaches a boil, add the cabbage leaves to the pot (4 at a time) and boil them for 3 minutes per batch.  Then set them on a paper towel to drain.
2. Meanwhile, in a medium-sized bowl, mix together the remaining ingredients.
3. Remove most of the thick center stem from each cabbage leaf by cutting just on either side of it, so the leaves lay flat.  Instructions for stuffing the cabbage leaves are shown below.

Place 2 Tablespoons of the
shrimp mixture in the center
of the leaf as shown above.
Pull the two tails of the cabbage
leaf up over the mixture
being sure to roll tightly.
Tuck both sides of the cabbage
leaf in burrito-style, and
continue to roll it tightly.

This cabbage leaf method can be used with so many different fillings!  Maybe a corned beef filling for St. Patty's Day?  What are some other ideas y'all have for cabbage rolls?