If you ask a group of children what their favorite season is, you’ll likely hear a chorus of “Summer!” amidst a few shrieks of “Winter!” No school and frequent dips in the pool are enough to make heat and humidity tolerable for almost any kid, while the anticipation of snow days and sledding add something magical to the colder months.
Even as an adult, late summer’s shorter days still make me a touch wistful. Yet I’ve come to anticipate fall for so many reasons. Crisp air, crunchy apples, football games, colorful leaves, comfy sweaters, sleeping with the windows open, carving pumpkins (pumpkin spice everything!), the return of a favorite TV series…there’s truly something for everyone.
A bonus of living in Lancaster is that the chill of autumn is consistently buffered by beautiful days. The golden sun is warm, but the humidity tapers off. So while Labor Day weekend might mark the unofficial end of summer, it’s not time to pack up the grill yet.
In the following recipe, jumbo shrimp are fancied up with a thin strip of salty prosciutto, which becomes crisp after a short stint on the grill. Served as an appetizer, the flavorful bites easily transition from summer cookouts to fall football get-togethers and will pull double duty as an easy weeknight entrée.
The simple trick to tender, juicy shrimp is to not overcook them. Remove them from the grill as soon as they turn pink with pale white in the center (bright white means overcooked). The use of jumbo shrimp in this recipe gives the prosciutto time to crisp a bit as the shrimp cooks through. If you substitute smaller shrimp, pay more attention to the doneness of the shrimp than to the crispiness of the prosciutto.
The following general rule, compliments of The Huffington Post, offers an additional method for determining doneness: straight shrimp are undercooked, shrimp that have just curled into a C-shape are perfectly cooked, and shrimp that have twisted into an O-shape are terribly, irreparably overcooked. (The unnamed writer goes on to say that he hopes you never, ever have to eat one of those!)
For added convenience, the shrimp may be prepared earlier in the day, covered and refrigerated until ready to eat. Brush with the oil just before grilling. One slice of prosciutto is enough for two jumbo shrimp, but I like to have a few extras to account for the occasional tear.
Yield: 4 entrée servings or 6-8 appetizer portions
- 20 jumbo shrimp (about 1 pound), peeled and deveined with tail on
- 1 tablespoon olive oil, plus more for brushing
- 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
- 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
- 20 small- to medium-size fresh basil leaves
- 10-12 pieces thinly sliced prosciutto
- Optional for serving: lemon wedges and a few basil leaves for garnish
- Skewers for grilling, soaked in water for 20 minutes if wooden
- Preheat the grill to medium-high heat.
- In a small bowl, whisk together the 1 tablespoon olive oil, Dijon, salt and pepper. Place the shrimp in a large bowl and pour the oil mixture overtop, gently tossing to evenly coat.
- Slice each piece of prosciutto in half lengthwise to form two long, narrow slices. Place a basil leaf at one end of each prosciutto slice. Place a shrimp on the basil leaf, and roll the prosciutto around the shrimp as securely as possible. (It isn’t necessary to cover the entire shrimp.) Place on a baking sheet, seam side down, and repeat with the remaining prosciutto, basil, and shrimp. (Advance prep option: The un-skewered shrimp can be prepared to this point, covered, and refrigerated for 6-8 hours or so.)
- When ready to grill, thread the shrimp onto the skewers. (Tip: To prevent the shrimp from spinning around on the skewer, first stick the pointy end of the skewer through the tail end, just above the shell, and then thread again through the thickest part of the shrimp.) Brush both sides of the shrimp with olive oil. Alternatively, you can spray both sides with an olive oil mister.
- Grill until the shrimp are pink and just cooked through, 2 to 3 minutes per side. Serve immediately or at room temperature.