Saturday night we had a few people over for barbecued pork chops and baked potatoes. They all brought contributions with sausage balls, potato salad, mixed flavour cheese cakes slices and a Boston Cream Pie. I also prepared a salad and some okra. Thereby hangs a tale. I use okra a lot when I make gumbo, but I don’t usually cook them plain. Years ago we were given some okra and I passed them on to a friend, she cooked some in our microwave then and there and they were delicious so I was annoyed I had given her the rest. Saturday, I didn’t like to call this friend because she has been ill but then I heard from the others that just the other day she was boiling okra and they didn’t turn out right, so maybe she has forgotten how to microwave them. In the end I did it by guess and I used, for the first time, a Microwave spatter screen I was given as a birthday gift. The okra turned out OK but I think I Matt and I were the only ones who liked them. This in the south and at least two of our guests were genuine, all fired southerners neither of whom had ever eaten okra other than deep fried.
There should have been 9 of us but once again illness struck and she had to beg off. This whole trip has been plagued by some form of incapacity or another. Of course the weather became ill too and it was pretty cold all weekend. Saturday afternoon we watched our neighbours install a new window which was actually quite hilarious with the comments being made by one of their number. Matt asked if they charged for the entertainment. All very funny.
Earlier we went to see our shrimp supplier Capt’n Sam and had big hugs with his wife. She is going to check out some things for us and then we have to take in our cooler today. What they do is pack the shrimp in one pound flat bags and load up the cooler with the shrimp and lots of ice, they then put it in their big freezer. We pick it up on our way home. If we keep the cooler in the car, we find the shrimp travel very well and are still solid when we get home. We already have our turkey breasts in our freezer here.
Sunday lunchtime friends took us to Shephard’s Point for brunch. A celebration of birthday and anniversary. The food was buffet style and was really good. I finally got to try shrimp and grits which I have never managed to choose before, I enjoyed it. There were all kinds of foods available including bacon and eggs benedict, roast beef, waffles, omelettes, fruit and grouper bites. Lots of things, but, damned fool I forgot my camera. We stuffed ourselves. They also gave us a basket of sweet breads which I shouldn’t have pigged out on, but did. By the time we get home I will have gained a lot of weight I think. Trouble was, we were invited to dinner in the evening.
Having rested a while and allowed all that food to digest, we headed to the home of our friend who had invited us to dinner. She had made us a delicious shrimp creole as the main course – we both had second helpings. Had a very pleasant evening with her and came home fairly early, we seem to be going to bed a lot earlier lately, mind you this morning it is not even 6 a.m. as I am sitting here typing. What a weekend though, nothing but eating, I dread getting on the scales when I get home.
To the British in particular, grits are something of a mystery, I remember watching Beverly Hillbillies years ago and grandma talking about making hominy grits, it sounded like something to do with pigs but it turns out to be made from corn. If you click on the word you will find information on just what grits really are. Plus a number of recipes including the one below. There seem to be as many recipes for shrimp and grits as there are cooks. Some cooks add hot sauce some don’t. Most don’t use instant grits, I imagine they would not be so good. The recipe below doesn’t use cheese although most do, it relies more on heavy cream. The picture shows tails left on the shrimp, I hate that and would never serve my shrimp that way, you have to get yourself messy whilst trying to enjoy the dish.
Creamy Grits with Shrimp
1 pound large raw shrimp, peeled and deveined*
1 cup heavy cream
2 cups water
1 1/2 cups hot stock (shrimp, chicken, or vegetable)
1/4 cup butter
Salt and black pepper to taste
1 cup stone-ground grits**
3 tablespoons fresh-squeezed lemon juice
Salt and black pepper to taste
6 bacon slices
2 tablespoons finely-chopped onion
1 clove garlic, minced
2 tablespoons finely chopped green or red bell pepper
* Add add flavour, place the shells of the shrimp in a saucepan and cover with water. Simmer over low heat approximately 7 to 10 minutes. Remove from heat and strain the broth, discarding shells. Add shrimp broth to hot stock.
** If using quick-cooking grits (not instant, reduce cream to 1/2 cup and reduce stock to 1 cup).
In a large saucepan over medium-high heat, combine cream, water, and hot stock; bring to a gentle boil. Add butter salt, and pepper. Slowly add grits, stirring constantly (so that the grits do not settle to the bottom and scorch), until all are added; reduce heat to medium-low. Cook for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally (be careful not to scorch mixture), or until the grits are tender.
NOTE: Grits should have absorbed all of the liquid and become soft and should have the same consistency as oatmeal (moist, not dry). If the grits become too thick, add warm stock or water to thin. remove from heat.
Sprinkle shrimp with lemon juice, salt, and pepper; set aside. In a large frying pan over medium-high heat, cook bacon until brown but not crisp. Remove from heat and pat dry with paper towels; set aside. Coarsely chop bacon when cool. Reserve 4 tablespoons bacon grease in the frying pan. Add onion, garlic, and green or red bell pepper; sauté 10 minutes or until the onion is transparent. Add shrimp mixture and bacon; sauté 5 to 7 minutes or until shrimp are opaque in center (cut to test). Remove from heat.
To serve, spoon hot grits onto individual serving plates and top with shrimp mixture.
Makes 4 servings.
Have a great day