When I was about 12 years old, my family and I took a road trip to Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. I have vivid memories of being crammed in the back seat of our 1986 Volvo, driving at breakneck speed across I-80 from Chicago due east, making random stops along the way.
Had to check out all the tiny spoons with state names on them, and tiny bells with state names on them, and magnets with… yeah, state names on them.
Road trips and vacations were some of the only memories I have of sugar cereal, bags of chips, soda, and other random junk food. My most vivid memory of that trip though, besides the gorgeous beach and totally beach-themed condo we rented, was of the Calabash Seafood Buffet. (Food memory, go figure.)
The Calabash Seafood Buffet was a cavalcade of seafood…no, seriously. There was a multitude of buffet-style tables each piled high with various kinds of seafood. At the time, I was blinded by the piles of fried food which, since it was vacation, I could have on my plate! The clam strips, the fried fish, the hush puppies… Ok, I’ll stop drooling and get to the recipe. If only I had opened my eyes a bit at age 12, maybe I would’ve seen and discovered the glory that is shrimp and grits.
After seeing Bobby Flay have a shrimp and grits Throwdown, I knew I had to make it for myself. I honestly had no idea what I was doing, but I combined a few recipes (as is my norm) and came up with a bowl of deliciousness!
Shrimp and Grits, Chicago Style
* 1 lb. peeled and deveined shrimp, raw
* 1 cup traditional (not quick) grits
* 4 cups water
* 1 Tbsp. butter, divided
* 2 Tbsp. olive oil
* 2 cloves garlic, minced
* 1/4 c. flour
* 1 can diced tomatoes, drained
* 2 Tbsp. (or more) Cajun seasoning
* juice of 2 lemons
* 1/2 c. reduced fat shredded cheddar cheese
* Salt & Pepper to taste
Boil the water in a saucepan, and when boiling, stir in the grits. Lower the heat to medium-low and simmer until the water is absorbed, about 20 minutes. Stir in half the butter and the cheese, and set aside.
Heat the remaining butter, olive oil, and garlic in a frying pan (not non-stick!). When hot and the garlic is sizzling, add the flour and stir well until it becomes a paste. Cook this mixture until a light brown. (This process is also called making a “peanut butter roux” and can take up to 30 minutes, but mine only took 15 because it was such a small amount.) Add the tomatoes and stir well. Add the shrimp, then lower the heat to a simmer. Add the lemon juice, seasoning, salt and pepper and simmer until the shrimp are no longer pink. Serve over a heaping portion of the cheesy grits.
There are very rare meals where I’m sitting and eating, and catch myself “mmm”-ing and scraping the bowl for every last morsel. This. Was. Amazing! I’ve been a fan of grits for years. I’ve always loved shrimp. WHY did it take me so long to try this combo?!
What will I try next?!
Also tonight, because well, Heidi was talking to me at work today about how much she loves meringues, I decided to give them a shot! I honestly don’t remember where I got the recipe, but I know they’re small, cute, and full of chocolate chips!
I’m off to enjoy some sprinkled treats… have a great night!