Simply Southern – Grits (and shrimp)

You can’t eat just one….well, you can, but it is really hard. What is a grit?  Grits are ground corn – sometimes white, sometimes yellow. Think of grits as super coarse corn meal. Shrimp and grits is an old Southern Low Country dish that has become chic. Grits are great with just butter, cheese added, eaten with milk and sugar, allowed to get cold and then sliced and fried (think of northern corn meal mush), baked in a casserole, an interesting side instead of rice or mashed taters, served for breakfast with a good drizzle of Red Eye gravy….  Shrimp and Grits are an excellent brunch, lunch or elegant dinner dish.

Grits. I love them. A bowl of hot grits with plenty of butter makes me happy. It is what I call a “non-confrontational” food. Warm, comforting, filling; feeling peckish, tired, lazy….Grits.

I like to buy stone ground grits (not the non-quick cooking or instant ones) that have plenty of the corn bran in them. They take more time to cook – like Irish Oats – but the texture and taste is rewarding. Add whatever you think you want to them – they’re grits – they’re gritty – they can take it. I have included the recipe for Shrimp and Grits and also, a scene from one of my favorite movies: My Cousin Vinny. I think you know the scene before you even see it.

どうぞめしあがれ douzo meshiagare, y’all!!

Shrimp and Grits (or, Breakfast Shrimp)
•1 1/2 pounds medium shrimp, peeled, halved lengthwise, and deveined
•Juice of 1 lemon
•Tabasco or other hot pepper sauce (I use Frank’s or Crystal)
•1 1/2 teaspoons salt or more to taste
•1 1/2 cups stone-ground grits, not instant or quick-cooking
•6 thick slices bacon, chopped
•1 small onion, finely chopped
•1 garlic clove, minced
•1/2 cup thinly sliced scallions
•2 tablespoons unbleached all-purpose flour
•1 cup chicken stock
•1 to 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
•1 cup (about 1/4 pound) grated medium to sharp Cheddar cheese
•Tabasco or other hot pepper sauce

Preparation:
Combine the shrimp with the lemon juice and a couple of generous splashes of hot pepper sauce. Let sit while you begin the grits and gravy.
Make the grits in a large heavy saucepan, first bringing 6 cups of water and 1 teaspoon of the salt to a boil. Whisk in the grits a few handfuls at a time. When you have added all the grits, reduce the heat to a very low simmer and cook over low heat for 35 to 40 minutes, stirring occasionally at first and more frequently toward the end. Be sure to check frequently as they can stick. Like risotto, stirring makes them more creamy.

While the grits simmer, get the gravy under way. Fry the bacon in a medium skillet over medium heat until brown but still limp. Stir in the onion and garlic and continue cooking until the onion and pepper are limp, about 5 minutes. Add the scallions, sprinkle the flour over the mixture, and continue cooking for 5 minutes longer. Stir in the stock and remaining salt and cook for 5 minutes longer. Remove from the heat while you finish the grits.

When the grits are thick and creamy, stir in as much of the butter as you wish, followed by the cheese. Add a splash of hot pepper sauce and additional salt if you like. Cover the grits while you finish the gravy.

Return the gravy to medium heat and stir in the shrimp. Cook until the shrimp are opaque throughout, about 5 minutes. Serve immediately, mounding the grits in large shallow bowls or on plates and covering them with shrimp and gravy. A sprinkle of thinly sliced green onion is a good garnish.

images[6]

Simple Saturday Cooking and Recipes

Saturdays are always busy so it is KISS – Keep it simple Saturday. Yesterday I did snow day cooking (see post). Saturdays are for cleaning, running errands and watching Duke play basketball – unil the end of the season. Supper tonight will be leftover soup from yesterday’s cooking. Lunch everybody just grabs.

So for KISS, breakfast is simple: Egg in the Nest or, Toad in the Hole – the two names I have heard this dish called for years. there may be others but I only know these two. Simple breakfast, simple recipe. This is a satisfying breakfast or quick lunch or easy supper.

In between times, I will make Pimiento Cheese: A southern staple that is without seasons. It is a staple on picnics, wedding receptions, for kids to grab and go (in my day someone would grab two pieces of plain old white bread and slather with the mixture and hand to me as I was on my way out the door to play until suppertime), stuffed into pieces of celery for addition on a fancy appetizer tray or a cool summer nosh.  Pimiento cheese sandwiches are excellent grilled.  Those quick bread and butter pickles I made yesterday are a great aside for pimiento cheese.

Word of warning:
  I use Hellman’s mayo. This has been a source of dismay for my in-laws, relatives, and some friends. Daughters of the south, they use Duke’s mayo. Uhuh. To me, too oily tasting and sweet. Women in other states may use a local brand or Miracle Whip. Some of you may be tempted to use a “lite” mayo. I beg you, please don’t. I mean, you are already eating several mouthfuls of cheese. It’s like eating a Big Mac, large fries and a diet coke. So please use a good quality, full tilt, heavy duty mayo such as Hellman’s.
The sun is shining and a cold front has moved. The snow from yesterday is still much in evidence. I ended up not making sausage balls for my husband yesterday but will today. This recipe has been around since Hector was a pup. Some I bake for immediate eating – the rest I wrap up on rolls of eight and place in a freezer bag for bringing out at various times.
Y’all enjoy your Saturday. Whatever you do, be safe, be careful, have fun.

TOAD-IN-THE-HOLE or, EGG-IN-A-NEST
Per serving:
1 Egg, 1 slice of bread (your choice), butter or margarine, salt and pepper
Cut a hole, about the size of an egg yolk from the center of the bread. Smear one side of the bread with softened butter or margarine. Spray skillet with cooking spray. Break open the egg into the pan keeping the yolk intact and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Let white start to cook (about a minute). Drop bread slice, butter side up, on egg with the yolk in the hole of the bread. Cook, depending on how you like your egg. I like over medium. The hole you cut out of the bread should be smeared with butter and allow to pan toast along side of the egg. When ready, flip egg over and allow buttered side of bread to pan toast. Remove to plate and put the “hole” on top of the yolk.

PIMIENTO CHEESE
1 (3-ounce) package cream cheese, room temperature
2 cup grated sharp or extra sharp or mixture cheddar
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1 6 oz. jar or 2 4 oz. jars pimentos, drained and smashed
salt and pepper to taste
dash of hot sauce (Franks or Crystal)
Using an electric mixer, beat cream cheese until smooth and fluffy. Add all of the remaining ingredients and beat until well blended. It can be used as a dip for raw veggies or crackers, sandwich filling, filling for celery, topping for beef or turkey burgers. it is also a primo midnight snack: Just open the container and spoon a spoonful or two into your mouth.

SAUSAGE AND CHEESE BALLS
1 pound good quality breakfast sausage (I use homemade) regular, hot, maple, etc.
1 c. all purpose baking mix (such as regular Bisquick or store brand)
2 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese
2 tbs. grated onion (optional)
Preheat oven to 375. Mix all ingredients just until blended. Doing this by hand is good. Shape into about 40 1 inch balls and place onto two lightly greased baking pans. I cover my pans with foil and lightly grease. Bake about 12 – 14 minutes until done. These are also good for breakfast.

thCAKIW57G                    thCAQLM4LM

%d bloggers like this: