Sunday, March 14, 2010

Garlic Shrimp and Cheddar Grits

When I moved to the States about a decade ago, I never really considered it my home. I thought I was just passing by, that my only home will always be the Philippines, where my family and friends are, where everything is familiar, where I do not have to struggle to belong. Then, about six years ago, I moved to Atlanta. I asked God for a sign if I was doing the right thing-- I got my sign from Him, it snowed that night (I love, love, love snow). So now, Atlanta is my second home, thanks to Bill and all my friends; and so, I embraced Southern cooking.

Grits is to true Southerners as rice is to Asians. It's religiously present in their dining table, may it be breakfast, brunch, lunch, linner or dinner. In 1976, South Carolina actually declared it the official State food.

Shrimp and grits, or simply called "breakfast shrimp", is ever present in most restaurant menu in the South. Actually, for my friends Biljana and Vilma's birthday dinner last Friday, 3 out 10 of my friends ordered shrimp and grits for dinner at Park's Edge, that only goes to prove my point!

Everybody have their version of this satisfying dish, and everybody claims theirs is the best! Well, I never claimed mine as the best, but everyone who've tried it told me it's the best they've ever had. Bill has a habit of ordering grits when we go out. When they serve him his grits, he takes a taste of it, he looks at me, and well, more often than not, gives them the thumbs down. That Bill, he is hard to please.. only my grits is good enough for him.

Garlic Shrimp and Cheddar Grits
(4 Servings)

Garlic Shrimp
1 T butter
1 T olive oil
1 T garlic, minced
1 lb of 16/20 or XL shrimps
1 t Smoked Spanish Paprika
Alaea Hawaiian Sea Salt with herbs*
freshly ground black pepper

Heat an enameled cast iron pan. Melt butter, then add the olive oil. Add the garlic and cook until soften. Turn off heat and transfer the garlic oil in a bowl to cool. When cooled, add the shrimp, paprika, freshly ground pepper and Alaea Hawaiian Sea Salt. Mix together then cover with press and seal. Let the flavor sit and marry while you prepare the grits.

*I have different kinds of salt in my cupboard -- Himalayan, black, grey, pink flakes, fleur de sel, Maldon, Maine and smoked to name a few. Every year, I bring back salt from the Philippines when I visit, the Pangasinan salt, which I use for my everyday cooking. Then, there's the Alaea Hawaiian Sea Salt. My friend Drea brought me some from Hawaii about a couple of years ago. From then on, this became my favorite salt. It has a very clean, smooth and mellow taste that very unique, thus, I use the Alaean salt when I want my food to have a simple and clean taste. You can order it online, kinda pricey, but oh so well worth it.

Cheddar Grits

32 oz Chicken Stock (organic, low sodium)
1 cup Old Fashioned freckled Grits
1 clove garlic, minced
2 T Queensland butter
2 T heavy cream
freshly ground pepper
4 oz Extra Sharp Cheddar Cheese, grated

In an enameled cast iron pot, bring chicken stock to boil. Add the grits and garlic. Cook, stirring constantly for 15-20 minutes. Add the butter and heavy cream, stir to combine. Season with some freshly ground black pepper. Add the cheddar cheese and stir to combine. Turn off heat.

Heat an enameled cast iron pan. Lay the shrimps in the pan and cook for about a minute on each side, or until pink and no longer translucent.

Scoop grits in a bowl. Top with 4-5 pieces of shrimps.

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