Monday, November 2, 2009

Shrimp and Grits with Okra and Tomatoes

I'm going to add something new tonight. I know! Aren't you excited?? Yaaaay! Something new! I'm going to start a link to whatever music we're listening to at dinner. What? You don't care? Well, you don't have to click through. Just remember. Everyone thinks they have good taste.

Tonight's dinner menu and music selection (new!!) It should let me make that tap-dance or something.

Shrimp and Grits with Okra and Tomatoes

No, we don't always listen to this kind of stuff, though I do love, love, love it. A lot of the time, we listen to jazz, rock, whatever. But this is the first night of early dark (thank GOODNESS!!) and we thought this would be appropriate. It's very soothing, at any rate.

If the pictures are shit tonight, I have a really good excuse. I had an eye exam this afternoon and they're dilated, so I can't see. (No, my eyes aren't usually dilated, why do you ask?)

Carolina shrimp. They were so fresh. They smelled like the sea, and tasted like it, too. I'm lucky to live here and have access to really fresh seafood.

For the veggies, I sauteed a chopped onion, about a pound of okra (yes, okra), one red bell pepper, and two fresh tomatoes in a little olive oil. Look! All Green and Red! Just like Christmas! Which is coming soon! (Between you and me, I've already started listening to Christmas music when my husband isn't here to scream "NO! NOT YET!!", planning the Christmas Cookies I'm sending to the office this year, making my Christmas list of gifts to give, and planning our almost-annual holiday bash. I LOVE LOVE LOVE the holidays! )

Back to November, though. While I was simmering the vegetables, I peeled the shrimp. With rubber gloves, of course. Have you heard my tragic shrimp story? I'll wait while you go read that.

Aren't they gorgeous?

Some of them didn't cooperate fully when I peeled them, so we had words, but generally speaking, they came out just fine, all plump and fresh and smelling like salt water. I just tucked the ugly ones under the okra. Teach them to mess with me.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch, I was cooking the grits. Now, if any of you people haven't heard of grits, (I really can't imagine that now, with all the cooking shows out there), I'm not talking about the white, runny, tasteless, unsalted sorry excuse for grits you get at a greasy spoon, or out of a package of "instant" grits from the grocery. Lord help me. These are nice stone-ground grits that are healthier and a lot tastier than the anemic fare I've described above. How on earth can you maintain any respect as a restaurant that supposedly serves Southern Food and serve that runny gruel they're calling grits? It's like sandy dishwater. But not this stuff. See? All chunky. Almost like it came from AN ACTUAL PLANT! (That would be corn.) What a concept!

For the grits:
  • 1 Cup Stone Ground Grits (Don't use that white instant crap. Seriously.)
  • 2 cups Chicken Stock or Water
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 cup milk (I used skim - if you're not thick around the hips and thighs, like me, you can use whole milk or cream)
  • 2 Tbs. sour cream (again - if you have thunder thighs like mine, you might go lowfat, like I did. No, it's not as good.)
  • 1 clove garlic, crushed
Bring the water or chicken stock to a boil, add the salt, then the grits. Reduce heat to low and simmer in a heavy saucepan with the lid on about 15 minutes, until thick, stirring occasionally. When the grits are pretty thick, add the milk, sour cream and garlic. Stir in to mix well and simmer on low heat for another 10 minutes.

While the grits were cooking:

I chopped some pancetta and some garlic, crisped both of those up, and then I added the shrimp. Yaay! I needed a little liquid, so I dumped in some dry white wine. You could use that, or a little chicken stock or water. Just make sure the bottom doesn't dry all out.

When the shrimp is done, dump the okra/tomato mixture in with it, stir it about a bit, then serve it over the grits.

Like this. Nom, nom, nom! Honestly, musically it probably would have gone better with some old Hank Williams (Sr., not Jr.), but in honor of our first Dark Night, the music sat well.

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