Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Shrimp and Grits

Tuesday marked my first day back at work after a leisurely 4 day weekend. And, as most working folk know, the first day back after a holiday weekend means you hit the ground running to catch up from days off. As soon as I got home, I turned on the lights, dropped my bags on the floor and went straight to the refrigerator for a Corona. Hmmm. We must have finished the Corona the night before. No worries; I'll have a glass of wine. Except there is no wine. Looks like I'll make a gin and tonic. However there are no limes! What will I do?

You might read this and wonder if these are signs of a drinking problem. False. Or you might read this and completely relate to the fact that one of the best ways to take the edge off of a busy day at work is a little alcohol (not exercise). Just enough to take the tension off your shoulders and put work behind you. So, I grab my reusable Target tote (trying be green) and head to the local liquor store where I choose a fine $12 bottle of cabernet sauvignon and head home. Crisis averted, dear friends.

Now let's get down to the real reason why I'm writing this post: last night's dinner. I am crazy about shrimp and grits, as any true South Carolinian would be. If it's on the menu, I order it.  I'm also quite particular on the taste. I like the roux to be simple in ingredients and packed with flavor. And I hate when it's served as more of a soup instead of with a spoonful of grits in each bite. The grits should also be thick and creamy. My theory in why most people do not like grits is because they've not been properly prepared. Any who is any Southerner's authority on cooking grits? Their mama (or grand mama). As mine put it, the 5-minute quick Quaker grits actually take 30 minutes. Stir frequently and add water as needed. Grits are corn; you can watch the pot of grits rise and pop as they cook. When the popping rhythm and frequency subside, it's a good indication that the grits are done cooking.

I've actually never made shrimp and grits at home, and this holiday weekend presented the perfect opportunity to get back in the kitchen and expand my portfolio of recipes. As if the 5 star rating and 146 rave reviews on Tyler Florence's "ultimate shrimp and grits" weren't convincing enough, Mr. Florence can do not wrong in my book. And he did not disappoint. Last night's shrimp and grits was hands down as good (if not better) than any I've had in a restaurant. And it was easier to make than the grits! The inclusion of andouille sausage, cayenne pepper and hot sauce bring the heat and Cajun spice into the mix. The roux keeps it classy with minced onion, garlic, chicken stalk and bay leaves.

I just want to take this dish to all my neighbors and say, "Here you go. You're welcome." Making this recipe last night was just what I needed to kick my cooking confidence up a notch (or ten)! If you're feeling a little adventurous or want to experience a true southern meal, make this version of shrimp and grits. You won't be sorry. My only variation was making Quaker grits (see above) versus Tyler's directions.

Shrimp and grits is a low country dish that, when mixed with The Drifter's "Under the Boardwalk", brings about memories of coastal Carolina summers and easy living...with a hint of sophistication.

Tyler Florence's Ultimate Shrimp and Grits - click here for the recipe.

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