Basil Shrimp

This recipe calls for BBQ sauce, which I thought to be very suspect as an 18th Century ingredient. But considering that the notion of cooking meat over fire is almost as old as the notion of eating meat, it stands to reason that people have been flavoring this meat for quite some time.  The Native Americans taught the Colonists the art of slow roasting meat over open flame that is what we now consider true BBQ. While I know they weren’t pulling out a jar of Heinz 57, and that the first bottled BBQ sauce didn’t enter the market place until 1926, it seems the invention of this most American of condiments dates imprecisely to the fifteen or sixteen hundreds in the colonies and spread to Europe over the next two hundred years. Some sources reference a sauce for cooking Alpaca meat that Christopher Columbus brought back from Hispaniola as the first, others say it originated in the American Colonies in the 17th Century. It is hard to say what style of BBQ sauce would have been used on a dish like this in Philadelphia, but I used a bottle of KC Masterpiece.

18 jumbo shrimp (thawed if frozen), peeled and deveined
18 fresh basil leaves
18 slices apple-smoked bacon
18 flavorless wooden toothpicks
2 cups vegetable oil
12 ounces BBQ sauce
4 teaspoons  grated horseradish
2 dashes hot pepper sauce


  1. Preheat the oven to 375ºF
  2. To butterfly the shrimp, make a deep slit along the back of each, but not all the way through. Rinse the shrimp; pat dry. Place one basil leaf inside the slit in each shrimp.
  3. Wrap each shrimp in a slice of bacon and secure with a toothpick.
  4. In a medium stockpot or saucepan, heat the oil over high heat to 350º; when hot, carefully add the shrimp a few at a time.
  5. Deep-fry for 2 to 3 minutes, until crisp.
  6. Using a slotted spoon, remove the shrimp from the oil and place on a tray lined with paper towels to absorb any excess oil.
  7. In a skillet, combine the BBQ sauce, horseradish and pepper sauce.
  8. Add the precooked shrimp to the sauce and heat in the oven for 5 minutes, basting the shrimp often, until the shrimp is heated through.
  9. Serve on a platter garnished with lemon wedges and extra basil leaves.

One thought on “Basil Shrimp

  1. Pingback: Fourth of July Celebration | historichostess

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