Considering I was born and raised in California, I am most definitely not a southerner. But this doesn't stop me from loving Southern food. On today's episode of Food For Thought, I try out my favorite Southern recipes, some classic and some with a twist.
Garlic Grits with Sauteed Shrimp
Grits, just like polenta or oatmeal, have a bad reputation of little flavor and mushy texture. But the grits I'm used to eating are creamy, rich, and pure delicious comfort. For mine, I like to load them up with garlic and sour cream and serve them with shrimp sauteed with creole-inspired spices. For a full creole experience, you can use your favorite spice blend or mix together garlic, onion, black and red pepper, oregano, thyme. I kept mine simple with a touch or oregano and cayenne pepper.
• 1 3/4 cups milk
• 2 cups chicken broth
• 2 garlic cloves, minced
• 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
• 1 cup coarse ground grits (I used Bob's Red Mill Grits. Cornmeal or polenta will also work)
• 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
• 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
• 1/4 cup sour cream
• 1 lb medium shrimp
• 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
• 1 tsp dried oregano
• Salt and pepper
• 2 tablespoons olive oil
Parsley, finely chopped, for garnish
In a medium saucepan, bring the chicken broth and milk to a boil. Add the garlic and slowly stir in the grits. Reduce the heat to moderately low and cook, stirring frequently, until the grits are tender, 15 minutes. You will have to babysit it. Remove the saucepan from the heat and stir in the butter and sour cream. Season with salt and pepper and serve immediately. If it gets gummy or sets up, add a little milk and stir it in.
Meanwhile, in a pan over medium heat, add the olive oil. While that heats up, sprinkle the shrimp with the spices and a pinch of salt and pepper. Saute the shrimp until just pink on both sides (about 5 minutes total). Serve on top of or with the grits. Garnish with parsley.
Sour Cream Chive Biscuits
Biscuits are a classic southern staple, and to make yours as mile high as possible, mix the dough together right before baking and use ice cold butter for the flakiest texture. I love these savory biscuits with a touch of honey and butter, still warm from the oven.
• 2 cups all-purpose flour
• 1 tablespoon baking powder
• 1 teaspoon salt
• 1/4 cup butter, cold and cubed
• 2/3 cup sour cream
• 2 tablespoons chives, snipped
Pre heat to 450 F
Sift the flour, baking powder and salt into the bowl. Drop in the butter and use your fingers to casually mix it in with the dry ingredients. Don’t over mix. There should still be a few lumps of butter, the size of peas, or even a little bigger. Two minutes or less of mixing should do it. Next add the sour cream and chives. Stir it up into a soft dough. Form the dough into a soft ball. Get a piece of waxed paper and lay it on your counter. Sprinkle the waxed paper with a little bit of flour. Place the dough ball on the flour and knead it about 5 to 10 times. Flatten out the dough with a rolling pin or your hands so it is about 3/4″ thick. Cut into biscuit shapes with a biscuit cutter, or the rim of a clean cup or can. Lay the biscuits onto a baking sheet and bake them at 450° for 10-15 minutes, depending on their size. Makes about a dozen medium sized biscuits. Brush with melted butter before serving.
Bacon Chicory Salad
Chicory is a bitter green typically served cooked in butter or sautéed, but for my spin on this classic southern ingredient, I found inspiration from the bitter green salads so popular in LA. Dandelion greens, arugula, frisée, radicchio, or any other green with a bite are wonderful contrasts to sweet bacon, pungent blue cheese, and toasted walnuts in this salad. Paired with rich and savory southern style cooking, this bright salad balances out the meal.
1 lb chicory greens, arugula, frisée, or radicchio (any bitter greens)
4 oz bacon, diced
2 oz blue cheese
1/4 cup walnut halves
1 tablespoon sherry vinegar
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon honey
Salt and Pepper to taste
In a pan over medium heat, cook the bacon until just crisp. Mix together the vinaigrette and combine with the bacon and chicory. Sprinkle in the cheese and walnuts.
Classic Pecan Pralines
Melt in your mouth pralines (prah-lines if you're from the south) are the perfect way to end a meal. I add a touch of bourbon to mine, but otherwise, this is a pretty simple take on a classic recipe.
1 cup pecans
1 cup light brown sugar, packed
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup unsalted butter
1/4 tsp salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon Bourbon
Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Spread the pecans on a cookie sheet and bake until lightly toasted (about 5 minutes). Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper. Fit a heavy-bottomed saucepan with a candy thermometer. Over high heat, cook the cream, butter, salt and brown sugar to 240 degrees (soft ball). If necessary, stir once to help dissolve the sugar. Remove from the heat and let sit for 15 seconds. CAREFULLY stir in the vanilla, bourbon, and toasted pecans. (It might spit and sputter) Stir until the mixture looks creamy and slightly thickened. Drop by tablespoonfuls onto the prepared cookie sheet. Cool for 20 minutes.