i'm not big on "rules" when it comes to cooking but one rule of thumb i do follow is, "everything is better wrapped in bacon." the holidays are a time for decadence, so another few slices of bacon here and there won't really do much additional harm (at least this is what i tell myself). my bacon wrapped shrimp over creamed polenta, an italian take on a southern comfort, is perfect served as a first course for that extra decadent holiday dinner party you might be throwing this month.
bacon wrapped shrimp over creamed polenta
serves 6 as a first course (and provides many extra bacon-wrapped shrimp for nibbling on)
bacon wrapped shrimp
1 lb. of 26/30 shrimp, peeled & deveined with tails on (extra-large shrimp = 26-30 shrimp per pound)
10 slices of bacon
salt and pepper
creamed polenta with tomato sauce
4 cups water
1 cup heavy whipping cream
1/2 tbs. salt
1 cup polenta
1/4 cup marscapone cheese
1.5 cups jarred tomato sauce
2 tbs. basil, thinly sliced
fresh ground pepper
bring water + cream to a boil in a dutch oven or heavy-bottomed saucepan. because cream and milk boil differently than water, keep a careful eye on the pot so the cream doesn't cause the water to boil over.
while water + cream are heating up, slice bacon strips into thirds or 2.5" pieces. lay shrimp out onto a foil lined baking sheet. sprinkle with salt and pepper for some additional seasoning (though the bacon will provide plenty of flavor). wrap each shrimp with a slice of bacon.
once water + cream come to a boil, turn down the heat to low and add salt and polenta. give it a good couple of stirs. leave the pot uncovered allowing the polenta to simmer for about 20 to 30 minutes (though you can cook it for much, much longer), stirring every few minutes to fully incorporate the liquids.
while the polenta is simmering, heat up grill pan, cast iron skillet or frying pan to medium-high heat. using tongs, place shrimp one by one into pan. to keep the bacon from unraveling from the shrimp, i find that it's best to put the shrimp fold side down. the heat then helps to seal the two ends of the bacon slice together. cook for about 5 minutes on each side at medium high heat. if the shrimp is not completely cooked through at this point*, lower the heat to medium and cook for about another 2 minutes on each side.
while shrimp is cooking, heat jarred tomato sauce (though you are more than welcome to make your own, which is what i usually do unless i'm pressed for time) in a small saucepan over medium heat.
once the polenta has reached a creamy consistency, take it off the heat. season with salt as needed and fold in marscapone cheese, which adds a nuttiness and creaminess that is an absolute perfect compliment to the savoriness of the bacon.
i like to serve this dish by spooning out three large spoonfuls of polenta onto a plate and then topping with a healthy helping of sauce. top with the shrimp and finish with freshly grated parmesan-reggiano, fresh ground pepper and basil. serve while still steaming.
*the shrimp is done when it turns a deep coral shade. also, cut into a piece to see if the meat is done. if the meat is still slightly translucent, it probably needs a bit more time on the heat.