Shrimp and Grits (Redux)

3 Nov

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The Midwest baffles me.

Without making this as much of a Biography Channel Original Movie ™ as possible, I lived in the South for 6 years before I came here.  And despite what you might think, not think, or despise about that place, they are damn good at using what they have.  Fields full of okra and tomatoes?   You’d better believe a gallon of chow chow is coming out of that.  Pigs as far as the stomach can see?  Barbeque.  A lot of it.  They know what tastes good, and they can churn it out in staggering quantities.  It just makes sense.

But here in the flatlands they haven’t seemed to get the damn picture just yet.  Here we have a region fucking infested with corn, but when I try to find some goddamned grits, I come up empty.  Grits, people.  The traditional breakfast treat MADE FROM FUCKING CORN.  It’s literally just tinier corn bits.  That’s it.

And yet, I go to 50 (that might be some slight hyperbole, but bear with me) damn grocery stores and only manage to find the stuff at the 51st.  Stores, I might add (and I will), that’re a stone’s throw away from acres of corn, but instead of using the stuff for something useful we get tubs of ranch dressing and white bread.

I don’t get it, people.  I just don’t.

So it’s time for a little educational experience.  What To Do With Shit-tons of Corn: 101.  And the answer is put shrimp and beer in it.

Pull out your pencils; there’s gonna be a quiz after class.

Here’s what you need:

Grits:

– 1 cup yellow grits (not instant)

– 1 cup grated sharp white cheddar

– 1 tablespoon unsalted butter

– 1 jalapeño, seeded and diced

– 1/4 cup heavy cream

Shrimp/other meat-related things:

-1/2 cup whatever breakfast meat you want, I went with breakfast sausage

-3 garlic cloves, sliced

-1 tablespoon unsalted butter

-16 large shrimp (about a pound), peeled and deveined

-1/3 cup dark beer

-1/4 cup low-sodium chicken stock

-1 tablespoon chopped tarragon

Here’s what you do:

First, bring 3 cups of water to a simmer in a big-ass pot and whisk in your grits.  Turn it to low and keep stirring once in a while for an hour.  Add a little water if it starts to look too thick.  You want to do this about 30 minutes before you start up the shrimp, otherwise you’re gonna be staring at the wall while your grits finish cooking. And that would look stupid.

Heat up a big skillet and toss in the sausage.  Cook it for about 5 minutes, until it starts to turn brown.

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Throw in the garlic and butter, stir it until it melts, then add the shrimp.  Cook for a minute more, then pour in the chicken stock and the beer.  Make sure you go for a beer that’s dark and stout-y; we don’t want any of that thin stuff in here.  If you can read a pamphlet through your beer glass; it’s too light.

Get everything simmering for a couple minutes, until the shrimp turns opaque, then take the skillet off heat.

When your grits are done (and if you know how to read and tell time, they should be by now) add the butter, jalapeno, cream, cheddar, and a little salt and pepper.  Stir it up until the cheddar melts and everything’s mixed together.

All that’s left is to spoon some of the grits in a bowl, add some shrimp and sausage, and top with a little chopped terragon.  Oh, and finish the rest of that beer; it’s a sin around here to waste it.

It’s also a sin to ignore these fresh beats from the Beastie Boys.  It’s Root Down (Free Zone Mix): 

Ok, so maybe we didn’t revolutionize the food-eating world with this one.  But at least with a little luck, someone in this husk-strewn wasteland will read this damn thing and realize there’s more things you can do with corn than make scarecrows and mazes out of it.

And yes, maybe you actually are from the North and think the South is a bunch of racist, barbecue-slobbering assholes.  Maybe you’re from the South and think the North is just as prejudiced, detestable, whatever your least favorite adjective is.

Regardless, there’s lessons to be learned, and ways you can just make the food you have better.  Hopefully this is one of them.

Otherwise I’m gonna go hide in one of those corn fields while I wait for redemption.

See you next time, folks.

Recipe inspired by this one: http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/Shrimp-Grits-367141

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