Back when we had a house in Park City, Utah, we frequented an Italian restaurant so often they put a sign above our regular table that said, “Wolfie’s Booth.” The reason we were at the restaurant so often? Their bacon-wrapped jalapeño shrimp. (Hold on a moment while I savor the memory of them. Seriously, my mouth is watering.)
Sadly, the restaurant closed before I was able to get their recipe, so I developed this particular one on my own and have tinkered with it over the years to the point where I look for excuses to make it. A party, Sunday night football, a birthday, Tuesday night… I’m in, and so is my entire family, along with a few of my neighbors.
The sauce is sweet with a hint of Cherry Coke, and once it connects with the jalapeño, it sits on the tongue with an exciting contrast of hot and sweet and savory. It goes well with a cold cocktail or even a light beer. These will disappear quickly.
Excerpted from Valerie’s Home Cooking by Valerie Bertinelli. Copyright © 2017 Oxmoor House. Reprinted with permission from Time Inc. Books, a division of TimeInc. New York, NY. All rights reserved.
For the Cherry Cola BBQ Sauce
- 1 1/2 tablespoons bacon drippings
- 1/2 (about 1 cup) large red onion, chopped
- 2 garlic cloves, chopped
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1/4 teaspoon dry mustard
- 2 cups cherry cola soft drink
- 1/2 cup red wine vinegar
- 1 cup ketchup
For the Shrimp
- 16 extra-large shrimp, peeled, deveined, and tails removed
- 1 jalapeño chile, stem removed, seeded and cut lengthwise into 16 thin strips
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon black pepper
- 8 bacon slices, halved crosswise
To Make the BBQ Sauce
- 1 Heat the bacon drippings in a small saucepan over medium-high. Add the onion, and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 5 minutes.
- 2 Add the chopped garlic, and cook, stirring often, for 1 minute. Stir in the salt, garlic powder, and dry mustard, and cook, stirring often, until the spices are toasted and fragrant and the onions are a deep maroon color, about 2 minutes.
- 3 Whisk in the cherry cola and vinegar, and cook, stirring often, about 2 minutes. Stir in the ketchup.
- 4 Bring the sauce to a boil, and cook until reduced to about 2 cups and the mixture coats the back of a spoon, 12 to 15 minutes.
To Make the Shrimp
- 1 Heat a cast-iron skillet or grill pan over medium. Cut a long 1/4-inch-deep slit in the inner curve of each shrimp; insert 1 jalapeño strip.
- 2 Sprinkle with the salt and pepper. Wrap each shrimp tightly with 1 bacon piece. Set on a plate, seam sides down.
- 3 Place the bacon-wrapped shrimp, seam sides down, in the hot skillet, and cook, turning occasionally, until the bacon is crisp and the shrimp are just cooked through, 5 to 6 minutes.
- 4 Serve the shrimp with the BBQ sauce.
- 1 The BBQ sauce will hold up to 2 weeks in the fridge. If you’re prepping for a party, the shrimp can be wrapped ahead of time and cooked later.
- 1 If you’re someone who loves their bacon in the morning, start saving the drippings in a jar for uses like this one!