August 16, 2021
By Jack Hennessy
Several years ago I was faced with a dilemma: How do I grill flaky white-flesh fish over an open fire without it falling apart?
Yes, there is the option of leaving the skin on and grilling, but I wanted to get a little more creative. Solution: Wrap it in bacon and slide it on a shish kebab skewer.
The most difficult part of about this recipe is avoiding poking yourself with the sharp end of the skewer. To prevent this, I suggest keeping the kebabs on a cutting board or similar surface to keep the skewer stable while sliding on vegetables and bacon-wrapped crappie.
You can certainly season your crappie ahead of wrapping it in bacon, but I have found bacon dusted with a little brown sugar and freshly cracked black pepper is delicious as is (remember that bacon is cured with salt, so keep that in mind if seasoning crappie separately with a rub that contains salt).
The other neat thing about bacon-wrapped crappie is once it's grilled, the grease in the bacon serves as an adhesive and the entire nugget stays wrapped after its removed from the skewer. When done cooking, everything on the skewer is basically finger food that you can just pop in your mouth.
A note on the thickness of bacon: Don't get the super-thin variety often found in the meat display, but also don't get the thick-cut stuff in the deli. Your regular old "not too thin, not too thick" selection from most delis should work. If in doubt, go with the thinner choice, as you can always double-wrap. It's hard to wrap too-thick bacon in this instance.
Ingredients (2 servings):
- 10 crappie fillets (from 5 "eater" crappies)
- 1 pound deli bacon
- 1 red onion
- 1 red bell pepper
- 1 green bell pepper
- 8 ounces cherry tomatoes
- Brown sugar
- Freshly cracked black pepper
- 4–6 stainless steel shish kebab skewers
- Cut crappie fillets in half length-wise a quarter to a half inch from the spine. Even the shorter side with the ribs cut out will have a thin, long piece of fillet.
- Cut all bacon strips in half. Dust bacon with brown sugar.
- Prior to rolling the crappie in bacon, make sure the fillets are completely dry. I like to pat them with a paper towel and then leave them uncovered in fridge for an hour. Wet fish causes bacon to get somewhat gooey and makes it more difficult to wrap firmly.
- Chop vegetables (except cherry tomatoes) into approximately 1-inch-square pieces.
- Wrap crappie in bacon by rolling fillet as if it were a towel, then take a half strip of bacon and tightly wrap it around the crappie. Immediately place on skewer.
- Assemble, alternating vegetables and bacon-wrapped crappie, until all fish is used. I have found that placing vegetable pieces on either side of bacon-wrapped crappie helps keep the fish secure and from rotating easily. My order went: 2 to 3 onion pieces, bacon-wrapped crappie, green bell pepper piece, cherry tomato, red bell pepper piece, repeat.
- Dust all kebabs with freshly cracked black pepper. Make sure all bacon-wrapped crappie pieces are oriented the same, meaning you can flip once and cook the other side of the bacon without having to worry about individually rotating the pieces.
- Heat grill to 400 degrees.
- Place kebabs on grill and rotate once underside of bacon is brown. Kebabs are done when vegetables are slightly charred and bacon is brown and cooked on both sides.
Any questions or comments? Message Hennessy on Instagram: @WildGameJack