Tue Aug 19, 2014
Longtime readers already know I'm a bit seafood averse. I feel like I'm doing a disservice to all of you by not taking advantage of how great the grill is at cooking up fish, shellfish, and more, but when it comes down it, I'm probably never going to opt for any of those over meat. In order to make seafood a more appealing prospect to me, I need to doctor it up in a way that's appetizing to my taste buds, and sometimes when I do this, I surprise myself by actually liking the dish a lot. That was certainly the case with bacon-wrapped, jalapeño and cheese-stuffed shrimp, where a little Tex-Mex love did a lot to entice my appetite for these little crustaceans. Trying to replicate some of that success, I took the same method I employed in that recipe and gave it an Italian influence to make these prosciutto-wrapped shrimp with mozzarella and basil.
Although I've come around to actually really liking some sea creatures like crabs and scallops, shrimp seems to be one of those things everyone loves that I just don't. I've learned though part of my distaste for shrimp comes form inferior products or poor cooking. Dry, chewy, overly fishy, and/or flavorless shrimp have been a big turn off before, but after putting in a little extra effort into finding really fresh shrimp, I know those are all avoidable problems.
The fishmongers I now visit may come with a little increase in price and travel time, but the shrimp I've been getting have been nothing but sweet and fresh. This makes a big difference and totally justifies the journey and cost, in my opinion.
So after procuring some quality shrimp and then peeling and deveining them, I got the rest of my ingredients in order. I subbed out each item from my previous Tex-Mex stuffed shrimp experience for an Italian equivalent, swapping Monterey Jack for low-moisture mozzarella, jalapeño for basil, and bacon for prosciutto.
I cut a slit at the base of each shrimp and nestled a small slice of mozzarella in it. Then I wrapped a large basil leaf around the base, followed by half a slice of prosciutto. It may sound like a lot of work to do this for two pounds of shrimp, but it actually went by pretty quickly, and by the end, I had a tray full of beautiful shrimp cloaked in the colors of the Italian flag.
Since chewy and rubbery shrimp have been one cause of my aversion, I pay extra close attention to cooking these on the grill so they turn out moist and tender. This meant cooking them over direct heat until they lost almost all of their translucency, but not all—allowing for carryover cooking to finish them up to perfect doneness at the end. This happened fast—four to six minutes tops for these large shrimp—so I never walked away from grill or took my eye off the prize.
While my taste for Tex-Mex will probably always make my first incarnation of stuffed and wrapped shrimp my favorite, I can't deny that this was pretty awesome as well. Mozzarella didn't do much for flavor, but its oozing richness was a great foil for the fresh basil, salty prosciutto, and tender shrimp. A final brushing with lemon butter gave the shrimp a brightness that rounded out the whole package. I can't say my shrimp aversion doesn't still stand, but at least baby steps like this will hopefully one day lead me to that world everyone else lives in where the mention of "shrimp" induces a mouthwatering effect like "barbecue" does for me now.
Prosciutto-Wrapped Shrimp with Mozzarella and Basil
- Prep Time:
- 30 Minutes
- Cook Time:
- 6 Minutes
- Total Time:
- 36 Minutes
- 4-6 servings
- 2 pounds large shrimp, peeled, deveined, and rinsed
- 2/3 pound thinly sliced prosciutto
- 2 ounces low moisture mozzarella, cut into thin strips
- Around 20 large basil leaves
- 6 tablespoons butter, melted
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice from 1 lemon
- Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- Working with one shrimp at a time, make a slit about 3/4-inch long as base of shrimp. Place one slice of mozzarella in cut slit, then wrap base of shrimp with a basil leaf, followed by a slice of prosciutto. Repeat with rest of shrimp.
- In a small bowl, whisk together melted butter, lemon juice, and black pepper to taste.
- Light one chimney full of charcoal. When all charcoal is lit and covered with gray ash, pour out and spread the coals evenly over entire surface of coal grate. Set cooking grate in place, cover grill and allow to preheat for 5 minutes. Clean and oil the grilling grate. Set cooking grate in place, cover grill and allow to preheat for 5 minutes. Clean and oil the grilling grate. Grill shrimp over high heat until prosciutto crisps and shrimp just cook through, about 2-3 minutes per side. Remove to a platter and brush with lemon butter. Serve immediately.