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Sensible splurge: Just a bit of bacon is enough to create indulgent flavors

BY JOE GRAY Published: January 29, 2013
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Shrimp and bacon, two splurge items in my house, the former for the cost, the latter for the caloric toll, come together here for an indulgent-tasting dish.

Wanting something fun and special for a night in, I picked up a pound of the biggest shrimp offered at the store's fish counter. The superplump crustaceans would be treat enough themselves, but I wanted more. The answer: Saute the beauties in bacon fat.

Yet, using just a little bacon, at about 70 calories and 6 grams of fat per slice, added a lot of flavor without taking the dish over the top. We split the dish between two of us, but a more realistic cook might make the recipe for four diners. (With that in mind, I upped the fennel to two bulbs and increased the amount of rice as well.)

The dish turned out so well, and yet was so simple to make, that I've revoked its special-dinner-only status.

Tip: The precooked brown rice, available at many stores, delivers whole grains in less time. Sub steamed white rice, if you like.

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BACON-FAT-FRIED SHRIMP

Prep: 10 minutes

Cook: 20 minutes

Servings: 4

3 cups precooked brown rice

2 slices bacon

2 large fennel bulbs, chopped in ½-inch dice, some fronds reserved

¼ teaspoon salt

½ red bell pepper, chopped in ¼-inch dice

1 pound jumbo shrimp, peeled, deveined

½ cup white wine

• Heat rice according to package directions.

• Meanwhile, cook bacon in a large skillet over medium-high heat until crisp, 8 minutes. Transfer bacon to a paper towel to cool and drain, leaving the fat in the skillet.

• Add fennel to skillet, stirring to coat with the bacon fat. Season with a pinch of salt. Cook until just starting to soften; 3 minutes. Stir in red bell pepper; cook, 3 minutes. (The vegetables should remain tender-crisp.) Add the shrimp in a single layer; season with ¼ teaspoon salt. Cook, turning once, until just cooked through, 5 minutes.

• Pour wine into skillet; lower heat to a simmer. Crumble the bacon; stir into the skillet. Cook just to heat through. Serve the shrimp and vegetables over the rice. Garnish with chopped fennel fronds.

Nutrition information per serving: 325 calories, 4 g fat, 1 g saturated fat, 185 mg cholesterol, 45 g carbohydrates, 26 g protein, 1,097 mg sodium, 7 g fiber.

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