Archives for posts with tag: shrimp
painting shows dish of shrimp and grits and a shrimp boat.

Shrimp and Grits. 8″ x 8″ watercolor pencil, gouache and ink. Sharyn Dimmick.

All of my friends like to write and eat. Well, some of them like to sing and eat and some of them like to talk and eat, but all of them like to eat. Lisa Knighton, whom I met at a retreat with Natalie Goldberg, is a fitness trainer who likes to eat healthy, fresh, local food, to bake cakes and to tell stories. Just see how many stories she starts to tell you in this post. Lisa hales from Athens, Georgia, and has come to “The Kale Chronicles” to teach you how use wild-caught shrimp and that Southern staple grits in the entree shrimp and grits. By the time you read this, you’ll be wanting to make them for supper (Let me just apologize in advance for the funky spacing in Lisa’s post — even re-typing it won’t fix it — I tried).

Who knows the first time I was fed grits. Probably would have to count all the times my mother ate corn grits when she was pregnant with me.
Daddy makes his grits with water, on the stove top in a small, metal pan. The corn grits bubble for 20 minutes, at least. He tells me: “Take a quarter cup of grits. Sometimes I measure the water and other times I don’t.”
Grits ain’t groceries.
Mama says that when she was a little girl her father was responsible for making her breakfast. “Each morning, before school,” she says, “My daddy would serve grits and sunny-side-up eggs. And as he put the grits on my plate, he said ‘Grits ain’t groceries.'”
Grits may not be groceries — meaning grits were staples — always in the southern house and made fresh at the nearest grist mill, often ground from the family’s very own corn. Grits are always eaten, at least in my family, with salt and black pepper and a spoonful of softened butter.
Another food I grew up eating was shrimp. Big Daddy, my daddy’s father, used to own an oyster bar, just off the main square in downtown Blakely, Georgia. At Christmas time, instead of turkey and such, Daddy, Uncle Charles, and boy cousins old enough to operate oyster knives shucked croaker sacks full of fresh oysters pulled from Apalachicola Bay on the Gulf of Mexico. Also, we ate tender Gulf shrimp, most often boiled and served hot with a small side bowl of cocktail sauce. I don’t ever remember sitting down for a Christmas meal: my cousins and I stood about eating the seafood as quick as it was prepared.
April begins shrimp season in Georgia. These days we bring shrimp home to Athens from the salty Atlantic waters near Darien, Georgia in McIntosh County. When we travel back from visiting this lowland county, situated along the Altamaha River, a place made infamous by Melissa Fay Greene’s 1991 work of nonfiction, Praying for Sheetrock, we always have the blue cooler iced down and full of these sweet, wild-caught Georgia shrimp.
When I set out to make grits, gourmet grits, I turn to Nathalie Dupree, author of cookbooks of the American South. When Natalie lived in Georgia I once had the good fortune to attend an afternoon party at her home in the pretty town of Social Circle. Her large dining room table was decorated with food she’d prepared, but all I remember was the big helping of warm cheese grits I ate, scooped from a large, hollowed-out round of Parmesan cheese. I’ve adapted the shrimp and grits recipe I offer from Nathalie Dupree’s Shrimp & Grits Cookbook. I’ve also provided links to two places located here in the South where you can order yellow grits, or white grits. I encourage you to select  wild caught shrimp for this recipe.
Shrimp and Grits (serves four)
First, bring all of your ingredients to room temperature before cooking.
2 cups water
1 cup milk (1%, 2%, or whole — just know that the fattier the milk, the creamier the final taste)
1 cup half and half (have another 1/2 cup water or half and half on hand to use when the mixture begins to thicken).
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 cup grits (white or yellow will do  — just know that white grits are more refined and smooth, and yellow grits are rustic, coarser.)
1 pound of shrimp, peeled, heads removed.
1/4 to 1/2 stick unsalted butter
1/2 cup fresh shredded mild to medium cheddar cheese
1/2 to one cup fresh-grated Parmesan cheese
salt and fresh-ground black pepper
Get out your biggest, sturdiest cooking pot. I use a 4-quart with a heavy bottom. Once the grits begin to bubble, you are going to want to have plenty of room in the pot for the mixture to gurgle and bubble without it going over the sides. To the pot, add the water, milk and half and half, then bring all to a simmer over medium heat, stirring frequently. Add the grits and garlic, and stir well and often since you do not want this mix to clump or stick.
Bring the grits mixture to a slight boil, then reduce the heat.  Add salt and pepper.  Again, stir often, cooking about 15 minutes. Then add in extra water or half and half here (the mix should not be runny though) and the desired amount of butter and cheeses, letting this mixture cook for another 5 to 10 minutes: keep it creamy and loose and stir well so that the cheeses do not stick. Taste the grits then. You will want a soft texture, nothing gritty or hard.
When you have the grits like you want, add the shrimp and stir, coating the shrimp well. The hot grits and cheese will cook the shrimp and they’ll be ready in about two to three minutes, as soon as the shrimp turn a pretty pink.
Serve in large bowls alongside glasses of sweet tea.
painting depicts shrimp diablo and ingredients

Shrimp Diablo. 12″ x 12″ gouache and watercolor pigment. Sharyn Dimmick

I have a big binder of recipes that I have clipped from newspapers over many years. When I say, “big binder,” I mean I can’t lift it without both hands and I have been thinking about dividing it into two lately. My binder is loosely organized by main ingredient or type of food: for instance, there is an “Apple” section, but also a “Biscuits” section, “Pork,” but also “Pasta.”

Friday my Mom informed me that she had purchased some Gulf jumbo shrimp for Monday’s lunch. We don’t eat shrimp often because we don’t want to eat shrimp farmed in Thailand. Then she told me she wanted a recipe with a sauce and, of course, it needed to include ingredients we had on hand.

We had no open white wine, which lets out many recipes right there. We do have two bottles of open red, but I did not want to make that substitution in case Merlot was too strong for the shrimp. I took the “Shrimp” section out of the binder and handed her the recipes. “See what you think.”

After some discussion we settled upon Shrimp Diablo. The day she had bought shrimp I had bought a couple of grapefruit. Shrimp Diablo calls for tomatoes and grapefruit juice, dried and fresh chiles. I could use diced canned tomatoes as fresh tomato season is long past and I have always been curious about the effect of grapefruit juice in this dish.

Today I set to work. The first task was to find the New Mexican chiles. I found some expired New Mexican chili powder first and swept it into the garbage — the powder had disintegrated the cellophane packet and another plastic bag (I guess it was powerful in its day — either that or the packaging had been weakened by the New Mexico sun). I found another batch in a glass-stoppered jar (smarter) that had its full strength. Then, hiding on top of the refrigerator among the jars of tea and rice I found the dried chiles.

I put the chiles in a Pyrex bowl with water and nuked them for a minute, covered them with a plate and let them sit while I found the diced tomatoes, opened the can, peeled and sliced garlic, dug the small container of pickled jalapenos from the fridge. Mom said she was going to the store for sourdough bread. I asked her to please get some fresh cilantro.

Meanwhile I sliced five small scallions, measured out a cup of diced tomatoes, zested and juiced one grapefruit, drained the chiles. Then I put on a pot of water for pasta. Uncharacteristically I read the directions, which said to cook the pasta for twelve minutes. At the ten minute mark, Mom had not returned from the store, so I drained the pasta, reasoning that it could finish cooking in the sauce.

Then I peeled shrimp, reserving the shells in a small plastic container to freeze for future stock.

Eventually, Mom returned, bearing cilantro and bread. While I cooked the shrimp, she chopped cilantro and sliced bread and heated bowls. The resulting pasta was piquant, pleasantly hot, with a distinct grapefruit aftertaste. The sauce reminded me of cioppino and was great for soaking up with bread.

Shrimp Diablo (modified from a camping food recipe, originally published in the Contra Costa Times)

For four servings you will need a pound of jumbo shrimp and half a pound of whole wheat pasta. If you will not be satisfied with that quantity, go ahead and adjust the recipe for more pasta or more shrimp

Nuke 1 large dried red New Mexican chile in a glass bowl with a little water for one minute. Cover said chile with plate while you continue with the recipe.

Measure 1 cup diced tomatoes into your blender or food processor (or use 1 large tomato during tomato season).

Peek 5 cloves of garlic and slice or chop roughly. Add to tomatoes in blender

Mince 2 jalapenos or toss in 1 Tbsp of pickled jalapeno rings

Zest 1 grapefruit. Add zest to blender

Now juice the grapefruit (which should yield 1/2 cup juice) and set juice aside for now.

Slice 5 scallions into small pieces. Set aside

Peel 1 lb jumbo shrimp. De-vein if necessary.

Chop 1/3 cup cilantro and add it to blender

By now, your dried chile should be pliable. Tear it into small pieces and add to blender. Whir contents of blender to get a thick, chunky paste.

Put pasta water on to boil for 1/2 lb whole wheat penne

Now assemble next to your stove your tomato-pepper-garlic paste, your reserved juice, your reserved scallions, your peeled shrimp, some olive oil.

Get your pasta cooking before you make the shrimp and sauce, which only takes about five or six minutes.

Heat some olive oil in a good-sized skillet. When oil shimmers, cook the onion. Then add the shrimp and cook until just opaque.

Add the contents of blender and the reserved grapefruit juice. Cook until it simmers and add your drained pasta just until heated through.

Serve in bowls with some good sourdough bread for cleaning up the sauce.

Food Notes: If you don’t like spicy food, cut down on the chiles. If you don’t like chiles at all, skip this recipe. If you don’t like cilantro or are allergic to it, choose some benign herb of your liking. I can imagine tarragon or summer basil. Please make this with fresh grapefruit, which has an incomparable flavor that you just don’t get in a can or frozen. And, yes, you can make it with “regular” pasta, but I don’t know why you would, unless you are out of whole wheat.

By the way, my sister-in-law was here for lunch, just so you know that Mom and I did not eat two bowls apiece. We each had a bowl and there is a small bowl left with two lonely shrimp.

How ’bout that: fresh grapefruit juice and zest makes this fit for a little citruslove, the wonderful January blog hop. #citruslove. Go check out some more citrus recipes here.

Painting note: I did this painting with pigments and brushes only. No watercolor pencils for a change.

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