Well, let me tell you. It was a welcome break from the many other assignments. I am taking fewer classes than last semester, but the load doesn't seem to be any lighter! And the assignment is legitimate. We are studying relationship-building in this particular class, and part of relationship building is knowing how to share stories, especially those stories which are life-defining. Right now, my life would be defined by the craziness of my schedule! In the meanwhile, I am trying to enjoy the days, be a good friend and wife, and above all, to glorify God. I fail often, but that is part of life.
As I shared with you last week, I am craving flavors of spring. Its right around the corner, and I can't wait! I love the lighter colors and the bright flavors. But at the same time, comfort foods are hanging around, giving respite from the chill. And, today, we are blessed to have friends hanging around too, giving respite from the constant weight of homework.
I know that I have already featured a Shrimp & Grits recipe, but I had to share another recipe with you for several reasons. First, because we are honored to have friends over for lunch today. I truly enjoy spending time with this couple. It is a joy to see what God is doing in their lives and to share what he is doing in ours. This is a good enough reason in itself! Moreover, they are not from the south, so I have the wonderful task of sharing this delicious Southern meal with them.
Second, because my sister gave me a wonderful birthday present a few weeks ago, a cookbook called Glorious Grits. It is written by Susan McEwen Mcintosh, whose family owns a mill outside of Birmingham, AL. She is no stranger to grits, cornmeal, or polenta. The book is filled with beautiful photos and many recipes that I am longing to make, including no fewer than seven Shrimp and Grits recipes!
And third, because when I came back from my Christmas break, I brought back with me some divine Alabama stone ground grits from Oakview Farms. The best grits are stone ground. They take about 30 minutes to cook, but if you take the time, they are creamy goodness with a great depth of flavor. If you can find grits from a mill, they will most likely need to be refrigerated or frozen because they are actually still have the germ (which both gives them flavor and makes them perishable). This two pound bag has been waiting patiently on the shelf of my refrigerator for a couple of months, and now is the time to enjoy them! If you cannot find stone ground grits, quick grits are okay to use, but please do not use instant grits! And please, never, ever put sugar in grits.
Anniversary Shrimp and Grits
Adapted slightly from Glorious Grits: America's Favorite Comfort Food
For the Gruyere Grits:
7 cups water
1 cup milk
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
2 cups yellow stone ground grits*
2 tablespoons butter
8 ounces gruyere cheese, grated or cut into small pieces
1/2 teaspoon white pepper
kosher salt to taste
In a large saucepan, bring the water and milk to boil. Add the salt and whisk in the grits. Bring to a boil, whisking often. Turn the heat to low and simmer for 45 minutes, stirring occasionally with a wooden spoon until the grits are thickened. Remove from heat.
Add the butter, cheese and pepper, stirring until the cheese melts. Keep warm until serving.
For the shrimp:
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 large red bell pepper, chopped
1 large onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
6 ounces smoked sausage, thinly sliced
1/2 cup dry white wine
1/3 cup all purpose flour
2 1/4 low sodium chicken broth
1/3 cup half & half
2 bay leaves
1 1/4 teaspoons Tony Chachere's Creole seasoning
3 pounds raw peeled shrimp
2 tablespoons parsley, chopped
While the grits cook, prepare the shrimp. In a large skillet over medium heat, sauté the bell pepper, onion, and cloves in olive oil for two minutes. Add the sausage and sauté for six more minutes. Add the wine, and cook until the liquid is almost evaporated. Sprinkle the flour over the sausage and vegetables. Stir constantly for three minutes. Whisk in the chicken broth, half & half, bay leaves and Creole seasoning. Simmer for seven minutes.
Just before seasoning, stir in the shrimp. Cook, stirring often, for three to four minutes, until the shrimp are turn pink. Remove the bay leaves, and stir in the parsley. Serve over gruyere grits.
*If you are using quick grits instead of stone ground, your cooking time will be much shorter, around five minutes. Check the directions on the grits package for specific instructions.