Sunday, March 5, 2017

Restaurant Copycat: Rubio's Grilled Shrimp and Bacon Burrito (but better)

This family loves eating takeout, and Mexican food is another one of our faves. Rubio's has a fantastic grilled shrimp and bacon burrito, which is affordable, but seems a little heavy on filler (i.e., rice). So as part of our pact to cutback on eating out, I decided to try my hand at cloning this delicious restaurant menu item. The end result was not only delicious, but it was absolutely better than the burritos we normally eat at Rubio's.

What you need:
Peeled, deveined shrimp (tails off) 
Bacon (uncooked) 
Onion
Tomato
Cilantro (fresh)
Lime juice
Jalapenos (fresh)
Raw cabbage (any color)
Corn (cooked kernels)
Black beans (cooked, drained)
Shredded cheese (colby jack) 
Mayonnaise
Chili powder
Cumin
Liquid smoke
Garlic powder
Chipotle (ground)
Honey
Rice (cooked, sticky)
Flour tortillas (extra large)
Cooking oil (optional)

Break out a deep skillet (I use a Le Creuset grill skillet) and fry up some bacon. The amount you use is up to you, and depending on how many people you're intending to feed. I used approximately a half pound of thick-cut bacon. Do not burn the bacon. Instead, lightly brown it, and then remove it from a pan -- transferring it to a large bowl. Leave the bacon grease in the pan, turning off the stove.

Fill a large freezer bag with the shrimp of your choice. I used a pound and a half of cooked, deveined, peeled shrimp -- and removed the tails. Season the shrimp inside of the bag with a combination of cumin, chili powder and garlic powder. I eyeball the measurements with seasonings, but for a pound and a half of shrimp I used approximately 2 tbsp. of cumin, 1Tbsp. of chili powder and a heavy dash of garlic powder. Add approximately 1 Tbsp. of liquid smoke. I used "mesquite" flavored smoke, which gave the shrimp an absolutely wonderful flavor. Seal the freezer bag and massage the seasoning blend into the shrimp. Let it sit while you prepare the homemade pico de gallo.

Finely chop a large onion, two medium-sized tomatoes (the redder, the better) and one to two large jalapenos. Roughly chop a handful of fresh cilantro. Add the chopped ingredients to a bowl and then stir in approximately 1/4 cup of lime juice (fresh or bottled). This is your pico de gallo.

Turn the stove on high heat, re-warming the pan containing the bacon grease from earlier. Once the bacon grease starts sizzling, empty the bag of seasoned shrimp into it. Fry the shrimp on high heat, stirring the entire time, until it is fully cooked with a lightly crisped texture. I used already-cooked shrimp so this only took a couple of minutes. If you're using raw shrimp, it must turn a coral-pink color to be "done." Beyond that, just get it crispy. Empty the cooked shrimp  -- with the grease -- into the bowl containing the previously cooked bacon. Mix it all together, so that the shrimp is coated with all the greasy chunks of fried bacon.

In a small bowl, mix 1/2 cup of mayonnaise, 1 tsp. lime juice and 1 Tbsp. honey. Add 1 Tbsp. of finely ground chipotle pepper. I also used a little bit of "cherry jalapeno jelly" because I was feeling experimental. It worked. This sauce tastes very similar to Rubio's white sauce.

In another bowl, mix white sticky rice, cooked corn kernels and drained, cooked black beans. Clean out the skillet you used to prepare the shrimp and bacon, or use a clean one large enough to crisp up a large burrito. Finely chop some raw cabbage (optional, but delicious)

Spread a Tbsp. of the rice, bean and corn mixture on the surface of an extra large tortilla. It should spread thinly, but if you want more rice it's up to you. Drizzle some of the homemade sauce over the surface of the rice. Again, the amount you use is totally optional.
Sprinkle some of that totally optional, but totally delicious, cabbage over the surface of the rice and dressing.

On one side of the dressed tortilla, dump a generous amount of the shrimp and bacon mixture. Use as much as you want, but keep in mind that you want this thing to roll up into a burrito and hold its shape. Sprinkle a little cheese on it if you want. Finish it off with some pico de gallo. 

Roll the burrito tightly, being careful not to puncture it or damage it. 

Heat a small amount of oil in your skillet, or use nonstick cooking spray. On medium-low heat, lightly brown your rolled burrito. This gives it a crisp texture that's a total delight when combined with the texture of the grilled shrimp and other filling. Seriously: Do this on low heat, even if it takes a little longer than you're wanting to wait. A slowly browned burrito is far better than a burrito that's been burned in haste!

Voila! It seems like a lot of steps, but it's totally worth it.

The flavor of these grilled shrimp and bacon burritos was absolutely fantastic. There was just enough spice from the jalapeno, chipotle and chili -- and the sweetness of the mayonnaise sauce brought everything together perfectly. 

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