Anyway, I extended the invitation to two friends, Caldwell and Debbie, who both live in Charleston, to come and join my family for supper. I was thrilled they accepted, but was pleasantly surprised when Caldwell (a.k.a. Pablo—but that's a whole other story) asked if he could bring something. He followed that with, "You know I can cook." Then he went on to suggest an Iron Chef-like challenge. Never one to shy away from a challenge, I was like, "Bring it!" I suggested shrimp and grits, which is a quintessential Low Country dish with the potential for a thousand different rifts. He was game and we agreed the loser had to do dishes.
I decided to do a version of the beloved shrimp and grits that I first made here. What drew me to this particular recipe is that it's made with my favorite beverage. While I'm sure your first guess is bourbon, it's actually "Co-Cola." I mean, I'm probably splitting hairs here because I would hate to have to choose, but there is a southern tradition of cooking meats (i.e. hams, ribs, etc.) in Coke that does glorious things. Why not shrimp and grits?
Caldwell took a very unconventional approach which scored him points in creativity—not to mention taste, playing off his interpretation of grits in the form of hominy and adding some roasted poblanos and chorizo. I think we all enjoyed the cooking and of course the eating.
I did learn a few things from the evening/competition:
|Challenge Shrimp and Grits|
But mine took the longest to cook and I made everyone wait to eat (in my defense, I needed a bigger pan!), so I figured I should get stuck with the dishes.
I hope everyone's holiday was filled with as much good food and good times. May we greet the New Year with great expectations! Let's make 2013 a good one!
Note: Madeira is famous in the South as the wine of choice for George Washington, who reportedly drank a pint of this fortified wine a day. The combination of the sweetness of the Coke and the richness of the Madeira bring a completely different touch to the dish. Red-eye gravy is traditionally made with country ham that had the round bone in the center, hence the name "red eye." Coke or coffee would be added at the end to soften the ham and make the gravy.
2 poblano peppers
1 package Jiffy cornbread mix
6 Tbsp butter
1 large sweet onion, diced
3 jalapeños, seeded, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 Tbsp dried oregano
3/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1 1/2 cups corn kernels (roasted if possible but canned is fine)
3 large eggs, beaten
1 12 cups chicken broth
1. Roast poblano peppers over the stove eye until blistered. Place in a ziploc bag or tupperware container. After 10 minutes, peel the skin, remove the seeds and cut into 1 x 2 inch pieces.
2. Bake cornbread according to package instructions and crumble in a large mixing bowl.
3. In a skillet over medium-high heat, melt 2 Tbsp of butter and sauté the onion for about 5-7 minutes until tender, and then add the jalapeños and garlic and cook for another 2 minutes. Transfer to the large mixing bowl with the cornbread.
4. In the bowl, start adding the hominy, corn, oregano, chicken broth and beaten eggs. This will become a fairly thick, lumpy mixture. Add the cilantro last and mix well. Pour into a baking dish. You'd want the mixture to fill the dish up about 1-inch deep. Add the remaining butter, cut into pads, on top and cook covered in a pre-heated oven at 325 degrees for 40 minutes. Remove foil and cook uncovered until the top starts to brown.
1 lb large peeled shrimp, uncooked
2 Tbsp fresh Mexican chorizo (or spicy bulk sausage, like Jimmy Dean's)
1/2 cup finely chopped sweet onion
1/4 cup finely chopped scallions (green parts only)
2 Tbsp mustard-based BBQ sauce (such as Carolina Treet's)
1. In a skillet over medium-high heat, sauté the onion and chorizo until thoroughly cooked, approximately 7 minutes.
2. Add the shrimp and cook until the shrimp turn pink, about 3 minutes. It may not seem like they're totally cooked through but remember they will continue to cook when you remove them from the heat. 3. Remove from the heat and stir in the BBQ sauce and let warm.
4. Scoop a heaping amount of the cornbread stuffing on 4 plates. Lay a few strips of poblanos over the stuffing on each plate. Spoon the shrimp on top and sprinkle each plate with the scallions.