Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Shrimp and Grits

My friends Bob and Courtney got married two years ago this month, and I still think about the fabulous shrimp and grits I had at their St. Simon's wedding. I now associate this Southern dish with two of my dearest friends and the perfect weekend I got to spend with them. So many happy memories equal one Big. Warm. Fuzzy.

This recipe is from Southern Living, and it's perfect. If something is good enough to be sold in North Carolina, it's good enough for me to try at home. All I can say is my expectations were met, and my friend Ashleigh and I ended up with a dinner during which we were each found speechless. I would drive to North Carolina, hunt down Crook's Corner, and hug Bill Smith if I wasn't afraid of scaring him to death. Mr. Smith, you're my hero. I owe you big, so hit me up if you're ever in Birmingham. I'll bake you some cookies or something.

Shrimp and Grits

The original recipe is from Bill Smith, executive chef at Crook's Corner, the landmark Southern restaurant in Chapel Hill, North Carolina.
Preparation Time: 20 minutes
Cooking Time: 21 minutes
Yield: Makes 4 to 6 servings

2 bacon slices
1 pound unpeeled, medium-size raw shrimp
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup sliced fresh mushrooms
2 teaspoons canola oil
1/2 cup chopped green onions
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 cup low-sodium, fat-free chicken broth
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon hot sauce
Cheese Grits (Below)

1. Cook bacon in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat 10 minutes or until crisp; remove bacon, and drain on paper towels, reserving 1 tsp. drippings in skillet. Crumble bacon.

2. Peel shrimp; devein, if desired. Sprinkle shrimp with salt and pepper; dredge in flour.

3. Sauté mushrooms in hot drippings with oil in skillet 5 minutes or until tender. Add green onions, and sauté 2 minutes. Add shrimp and garlic, and sauté 2 minutes or until shrimp are lightly browned. Stir in chicken broth, lemon juice, and hot sauce, and cook 2 more minutes, stirring to loosen particles from bottom of skillet. Spoon shrimp mixture over hot Cheese Grits; sprinkle with crumbled bacon.

Cheese Grits
1 (14-oz.) can low-sodium fat-free chicken broth
1 cup fat-free milk
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup uncooked quick-cooking grits
3/4 cup (3 oz.) shredded 2% reduced-fat sharp Cheddar cheese
1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 teaspoon hot sauce
1/4 teaspoon ground white pepper

1. Bring first 3 ingredients and 1 1/3 cups water to a boil in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat; gradually whisk in grits. Reduce heat to low, and simmer, stirring occasionally, 10 minutes or until thickened. Stir in Cheddar cheese and next 3 ingredients.

Everyone loves bacon, but only a small percentage of us are willing to admit it. I am seriously in love with this stuff, and I have become a master at cooking it. The secret? "Bacon, meet my stoneware and my oven." Thick-sliced bacon. 425 degrees. 15-20 minutes depending on how crispy you like it. Drain. Try to avoid eating. Serve. For a full pack of bacon, I use the Large Bar Pan from the Stoneware Collection, but for fewer pieces (like when I practice self-control), I go with the Medium Bar Pan, seen here. The Chef's Tongs and Dots Dinner Plate served as my sidekicks, but the bacon was the star. Oh, bacon...

I enjoy cooking with friends something fierce, but I go absolutely nuts when I do the thing with someone who knows his or her way around the kitchen. Enter: Ashleigh. This girl is a pro in the kitchen, so this meal came together super quickly. Check her out with those green onions! Give her a Large Cutting Board and a 5" Santoku Knife, and she'll show you what's up with a smile!

This recipe, like most main dishes, moves quickly, so it's vital to have everything ready to go. Cooking this way is a blast, but cooking willy-nilly is annoying. You know what I'm talking about. Here's a quick rundown of what Ashleigh and I used: Large Cutting Board, 5" Santoku Knife, Adjustable Measuring Spoons, Garlic Press, Citrus Press, Easy Read Measuring Cups, Easy Read Mini Measuring Cup, Measuring Cup Set, Pinch Bowl Set.

Buy fresh shrimp for maximum awesomeness. I'm sure you can use frozen shrimp in this recipe, but I think it's worth it to buy a pound of these guys to avoid the salty flavor that's so difficult to get out of frozen shrimp. Anyone have a tip for that? Seriously, tell me what to do! Moving on... This is a Stainless Mesh Colander, and I love it.

The Dots Medium Bowl from the Simple Additions Collection is perfect for dredging the shrimp in their flour mixture. That look on my face - the one that seems like sheer bliss - is sheer bliss. You should smell my kitchen at this point! AMAZING!

Things are coming together in the 10" Skillet from the Executive Cookware Collection. It's about to get nuts in my kitchen, and all I can do is try to control the anticipation taking me over.

Ashleigh is bringing the cheese grits together in a 4-Qt. Casserole from the Executive Cookware Collection, and the Stainless Silicone Whisk is keeping her from scratching the non-stick coating. Cooking is fun, but cooking with friends is almost too much for me to take! Soooo great!

The only reason Ashleigh and I were able to pause long enough for this picture was this goat cheese bruschetta we'd just pigged out on. Appetizers are important, right? Anyway, our meal is served in Dots Pasta Bowls from the Simple Additions Collection, and we have Dots Small Beverage Glasses for the white wine which paired oh so well with this dish.

Want to make a date night meal that's easy to do at home and will save you a lot of money? Want to hang out with a friend to discuss life's important things like food and engagements? Want to gorge yourself on food that makes you think of precious friends' weddings and such? Welcome to shrimp and grits. Do this!

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1 comment:

  1. I've always been told to soak frozen shrimp in buttermilk to make them taste better/fresher.