Mesquite Grilled Camarones (Shrimp) Brochette, photo by Cindy KennedyPhoto by Cindy Kennedy

Mesquite Grilled Camarones (Shrimp) Brochette

Cuisine: Tex Mex

Camarones Brochette is a highly popular item on Mexican/Tex-Mex restaurant menus. Grilled shrimp infused with jalapeño and bacon flavors makes a mouth-watering appetizer that may compel you to turn it into a meal. The term “brochette,” which means skewer, is actually French (as in “en brochette”) and no one knows exactly how that became the description of choice. Go further south and you might find them called pinchos, although that could also mean a small appetizer served spiked with a toothpick.

The process for skewered shrimp is easy. Larger shrimp are butterflied, stuffed with jalapeño strips, then wrapped with partially cooked bacon. They go on the grill for 3-4 minutes each side over charcoal and mesquite chips. A butter and tequila basting enhances the delicate flavors while mesquite smoke works its own magic. That’s all there is to it for an appetizer that parades all its flavors in each bite.

If you’re not familiar with mesquite infusion, a bit of caution is in order. The wood, with its strong flavor and hot burn, is truly best for grilling – and better for fast cooking. In the smoker, it can become quite sharp and distasteful if overused. Soak chips and pile them in a vented packet for charcoaling or add in appropriate containers for propane cooking. If you have a choice, choose the honey mesquite species (also called "Texas" mesquite) and always be sure it’s older and well-seasoned. Even though it’s strong, once you taste the hearty smoke flavors of mesquite, you’ll see why it’s so popular. You’ll find bags of chips almost anywhere and they will likely be true Texas mesquite.

Ingredients

  • For the Shrimp
  • 16 jumbo shrimp rinsed and deveined
  • 2 jalapeño peppers julienned
  • 16 slices of bacon
  • 8 wood skewers presoaked
  • 16 toothpicks presoaked
  • 2 handfuls mesquite chips presoaked
  • For the Butter Sauce Mixture
  • To 1/2 cup melted butter add:
  • 1/2 ounce tequila
  • 1 teaspoon lime juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon oregano
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne
  • 1/4 teaspoon finely chopped cilantro

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Directions

  1. Butterfly the shrimp, leaving the tail and last section intact. Place 2-3 jalapeño strips in each shrimp and press sides together. Pre-cook bacon until it is mostly done, but still flexible (microwave works well).
  2. Secure the bacon with a toothpick for each shrimp.
  3. Spear two shrimp on each wood skewer.
  4. Use a pastry brush to coat with butter mixture (see recipe included here).
  5. Wrap the presoaked mesquite chips in an aluminum foil packet. Vent it on the top with knife slits.
  6. For a charcoal fire, you’ll want the briquettes almost white-hot. Add the mesquite packet on top and wait for it to start smoking. Leave the grill lid off.
  7. Place skewered shrimp on grill. Cook for about 4 minutes each side and serve.
  8. Just brush this over the tops before grilling, then baste again when turned.Just brush this over the tops before grilling, then baste again when turned.
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