We’re excited to welcome a celebrity guest to Green Leaf BBQ …Tom Porter of Big Butz BBQ fame!
by Tom Porter of Big Butz BBQ
SHIGEN! What? You’ve never heard of it? I can’t believe it. For those that have, I can imagine how excited you must be at just hearing the name. For those that haven’t, Shigen are a combination of Shrimp, Chicken, and Bacon. Now two thoughts are probably going through your head; how do you put all that together? And, what is so special about that? Both excellent questions! The first is rather easy to explain but, the second is what is discovered through the experience of creating and consuming them.
To make these delicious little beauties you are going to need to acquire some peeled and deveined “16-20” Shrimp. (16-20 refers to the size of the shrimp and in this case means you will get 16-20 per pound.) You will then need to get some chicken meat, it can be breast meat or thigh meat, doesn’t matter but it needs to be cut up into 1 inch cubes. After that there is the bacon! I myself prefer a nice thick cut bacon but you can use whichever you like the best. Also you will want a box of tooth picks, your favorite seasonings and some BBQ Sauce or Cocktail Sauce. That’s all you need to make your Shigen!
Now, you are on the way to making some of your very own! But, “what’s next?” you ask. Simple!
Take the chicken, dump it in a bowl along with your favorite seasonings this could be a rub or marinade or just about anything you can dream up, and set the chicken off to the side. Next, take out your shrimp and cut almost all the way through along the vein. If you see blood, you have cut through too far and may want to go get a Bandaid. Once all your shrimp are ready, place a piece of chicken in the deeply cut vein, take a piece of bacon and wrap it all the way around the shrimp and the chicken, then skewer it with a toothpick to hold the whole works in place. Cut off any excess bacon, take the scrap piece, lay it next to the remaining bacon and cut that much off from the rest so now you won’t have to do anymore trimming. Repeat the process until you either run out of shrimp or chicken, whichever comes first. (I have usually found that about 3 chicken breasts will make it through a package of shrimp.)
Now, all that is left to cook them, “but how?” you ask. “Shrimp are one of the most delicate things to cook in the world!” you say. First, take a deep breath! It’s going to be okay. If you have a smoker, that is great, just fire it up to about 250. If you don’t, no problem! Fire up your grill whether it be charcoal or gas. But, if it’s charcoal, have your coals on only one side, and if it’s gas, only have one of the burners going. Now that we have everything warmed up and ready to go.
You’re going to place your Shigen on the side without the flame directly under it. For those who have never done this before, it’s what they call in-direct cooking and it is one of the best ways to cook up stuff without charring it to a crisp. Your Shigen will take anywhere from 30-40 minutes to cook. In general you want to see that the shrimp has turned pink and the chicken is white, bacon crispness is going to be to your preference but, I’ve found that when it’s just got a little crisp on the edge is when they are the best. All that is left now is to take them off your grill or smoker, plate them up with some sauce and serve! If you happened to leave the tails on, you can pull the toothpicks out and serve them that way. This is great when you don’t want to find a hundred toothpicks all over your yard the next morning.
Now, there are some of you that are seasoned outdoor cooking pros or may just have a lot of cooking experience and are wondering if this can really be for real, after all, shrimp is very delicate, chicken cooks slower than shrimp, and bacon will never be crispy before the shrimp turns into something resembling an eraser. These my friends are all vital concerns and understandable, so, let me try to explain why it all works. We put the seasonings on the chicken instead of the shrimp because if you salt shrimp it dries up even faster than it normally would because of salt causing it to give off water but, because we put it on the chicken, the shrimp gets extra moisture from the chicken, keeping it from drying out. Also, salt has a tendency to work as a heat conductor so the chicken draws in heat faster and cooks faster because of it. The bacon works as an insulator for the shrimp by giving it a fat barrier from the heat so the bacon is allowed to get a crisp on it while protecting the delicate flavors of the shrimp. Not to mention, everything just tastes better with bacon. And that, my friends is the magic behind how the Shigen works.
Get outside fire up that grill or smoker and cook up a mess of Shigen not only will you wow your friends but their taste buds as well!
You can find Tom & Big Butz BBQ on most social media outlets like Twitter (@bigbutzbbq) & Facebook. He’s got a great blog at: http://bigbutzbbqsauce.net Big Butz BBQ sauce is also widely available and highly prized by those who try it – find Tom and get some for yourself!