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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!
I first met Chris Minnes, the GM of the stylish and hip 968 Park Hotel during a stay at the hotel several months ago. Chris and his staff are on the cutting edge of the hospitality market. If you’re tired of typical “Hotel Speak” and policies – this crew has the market cornered. Don’t get me wrong – they are true professionals and take their jobs seriously – they are just really creative and fun in the process.
Carrie and I shared coffee with Chris one morning in the lobby bar, made chiefly with recycled lumber and decor, hatching a plan to link up one day for an event. We were both Eco-aware businesses that were doing right by the environment in our individual pursuits…why wouldn’t we put something fun together and create an event for locals and guests to enjoy…it just made sense.
October 17th began with the Traeger Pellet BBQ’s slow smoking Tri-Tip, French Cut St. Louis Spare Ribs and Chicken Thighs on a skewer. Zucchini, Mushrooms and Pineapples were prepared or stuffed with a secret blend of goodness – all of the food was cooked outdoors on the BBQ.
The 968 Park Hotel wine bar, stocked with a nice selection of wines from the local region was set up and managed by Mike, the always affable member of the 968 Park Hotel crew. He poured all evening without a break – I think he was having more fun than the guests. People were checking in from all over the county and sharing in the festivities, excited to see what was going on. Many couples that were headed out for a dinner reservation, canceled their plans and stayed to sample the BBQ and sip the wine.
Each of the BBQ foods was designed to eat while holding a glass of wine – and either complimented what was being poured or cleanse the pallet so other wines could be tasted subjectively.
Green Leaf BBQ is proud to have helped 968 Park Hotel create this event. I’m sure that you’ll see us working together in the future. Please visit the hotel website at www.968parkhotel.com to book your next stay in the Tahoe area. They offer a wonderful array of massages in an Eco-friendly environment that will please the most discerning client.
Carrie & I were shopping the other day – grocery shopping – our favorite pastime. We were trying to decide what to have for dinners in the week ahead. Understanding that we are in the BBQ industry, we typically choose an assortment of meats that might either provide a learning experience, or perhaps fresh material to share. Cornish Game Hens came up last night, and indeed – produced something to share.
Most folks LOVE BBQ Chicken, in one or more of it’s many forms. We serve lots of BBQ Chicken to clients and make many of recommendations to customers looking for a new way to prepare it. One complaint we’ve heard often,” The chicken breasts are just too big” or “We cooked a whole chicken and now we have to store the leftovers – that never get eaten.”
Cornish Game Hens don’t have any of those problems. One hen, split in Half will comfortably feed two people with no leftovers. Even better “SpatchCock” (or a hen with the back cut out and butterflied), but straight hen halves are wonderful.
Here are the Basics of what we did:
Frozen Game Hens – cut in half just like a chicken. One half per person is the appropriate portion.
- I tossed (3) Halves in a 2 gallon Zip Lock bag & poured a “Mojo Criollo” Marinade – this is a wonderful citrus based marinade that is traditional in Cuban or Mexican cooking.
- Let the hens soak in the marinade for (4) hours – that’s all the time I had in order to get them cooked on time. Let them soak longer if you can.
- Get a BBQ or Smoker set up with some BBQ Smoke Wood and plan for “Indirect” heat; adjusting your temps to the 250 Degree range. When the temperature stabilizes, put the hens on the BBQ. I add a water pan to the grill if I am worried about moisture – this is just a metal bread pan filled 2/3 with water & set on the same side as the hens. The pan will steam and add humidity to the cooking chamber. This can be done on ANY BBQ.
- I lay the hens on the BBQ grate – setting the thickest (breast) side of the hen towards the fire – I don’t like burnt wing and leg tips.
- Let the hens cook for 20 minutes – shake on a mellow BBQ rub once the skin has started to sweat a bit. I used D-Dog’s Maple Rub – very complimentary to poultry.
- An hour later, baste on some olive or canola oil, balsamic vinegar & honey mixture that you’ve prepared in the house…this will dilute & emulsify the dry rub that was applied earlier. The color will really come out and begin to look glossy.
- Another hour into the cook, your hens should have been on the BBQ for about 2 1/2 hours now – baste with a final BBQ sauce or glaze. Mine was simple sugar, mint, sage & a touch of brown mustard – all mixed together nicely prior to painting the hens…you can use a bottled sauce at this point too…
- Things should be VERY close to done – ensure now that the BBQ doesn’t get much hotter than the 250 degrees we’ve talked about – that sugar will burn if it does.
- The hens will be done now – and can be pulled off the BBQ. I like to put mine under a foil tent on a platter or other type of “steamer” – this allows the hens to rest while other parts of the meal are finished off.
- Enjoy those nice Cornish Game Hens – they should be super juicy & tangy sweet.
We used a Traeger Pellet Grill for this recipe, you can easily replicate this on a Charcoal or Gas grill. The Traeger Pellet Grill is easy & low maintenance – we recommend them.
Thanks for checking out our BBQ blog – I try to come up with stuff that anybody can try with success – We have many of the items mentioned in our online BBQ shop at: www.greenleafbbq.com
Best of luck,