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Traditional shrimp and grits from South.
South by Sean Brock.
Our cookbook of the week is South by Sean Brock, founder of Husk restaurants and chef-owner of two upcoming restaurants in Nashville, Tenn. Over the next three days, we’ll feature more recipes from the book and an interview with its author.
A soul-satisfying, single-skillet dish, chef Sean Brock has been making shrimp and grits since he was 18 years old. This “super-simple” traditional version, which he says might be his favourite recipe in the entire book, doubles as an homage to one of his Southern cooking heroes: The late chef Bill Neal of Crook’s Corner in Chapel Hill, N.C.
Neal helped start the dialogue of what Southern food can be, Brock says, and was among the first chefs to highlight the cultural and culinary value of dishes such as shrimp and grits by serving them in a restaurant setting. “It’s one of the best cuisines in the world; it’s not just food that’s cooked at home,” he adds of Neal’s legacy.
In South , Brock follows this classic recipe with a rendition he created for the first Husk menu: Shrimp and grits with roasted tomatoes, fennel and sausage. The dish is an ideal springboard for cooking seasonally, he says, “you can push yourself to create something new each time.”
TRADITIONAL SHRIMP AND GRITS
1/2 cup (125 mL) all-purpose flour
1 tbsp (15 mL) kosher salt, plus more for seasoning
1/2 tsp (2.5 mL) freshly ground black pepper, plus more for seasoning
1 tsp (5 mL) canola oil
2 oz (55 g) country ham, preferably Bob Woods’s ( The Hamery ), cut into 1/4-inch (6-mm) dice
1 lb (450 g) 21–25-count shrimp, preferably local, peeled and deveined
4 oz (115 g) small button mushrooms, washed, dried and quartered
1/4 cup (60 mL) thinly sliced scallions
1/2 cup (125 mL) vegetable stock
2 tbsp (30 mL) unsalted butter, diced
1 tbsp (15 mL) fresh lemon juice
1 recipe Stovetop Grits (recipe follows), just cooked and still warm
Combine the flour, salt and pepper in a shallow bowl, mix well and set aside.
Heat the canola oil in a large skillet over medium heat, add the ham and cook, stirring frequently, until the fat has rendered and the ham is crisp, about 3 minutes.
Lightly dredge the shrimp in the seasoned flour, shaking off any excess and carefully add them to the hot skillet. Cook until lightly browned on the first side, 1 to 2 minutes. Turn the shrimp, add the mushrooms and scallions, and cook until the other side of the shrimp is lightly browned and the mushrooms and scallions begin to soften, about 2 minutes. Add the vegetable stock, bring to a simmer, and cook until it has reduced by half and the shrimp are just cooked through, about 2 minutes. Stir in the butter and lemon juice and season lightly with salt and pepper.
Give the grits a good stir, then divide them among warmed bowls. Spoon the shrimp and mushrooms, with their broth, on top.
Serves: 6 as an appetizer, 4 as a main course
One 1-L bottle (4 1/4 cups) spring water
1 cup (250 mL) Anson Mills Rosebank Gold Grits
1 fresh bay leaf
1 tbsp (15 mL) kosher salt
1/2 tsp (2.5 mL) freshly ground white pepper
2 tbsp (30 mL) unsalted butter
1 tbsp (15 mL) fresh lemon juice
1 1/2 tsp (7.5 mL) hot sauce
Combine the water and grits in a container, cover and refrigerate for at least 8 hours or up to overnight.
Use a fine-mesh sieve to skim off any hulls or chaff from the surface of the water, being careful not to disturb the water too much so that none of the bits sink back into the grits. Transfer the grits and their soaking water to a large saucepan and bring to a boil over high heat, stirring constantly with a silicone spatula. Then continue to boil, stirring, until the starch in the corn is hydrated and the grits thicken, 1 to 2 minutes. Remove from the stove, cover and let stand for 10 minutes to let the grits relax.
Uncover the grits, add the bay leaf and cook over low heat, stirring often, until very soft and tender, about 1 hour. Taste the grits every 15 minutes or so to check their progress.
Remove from the heat, remove and discard the bay leaf, and stir in the salt, white pepper, butter, lemon juice and hot sauce. Serve right from the pan.
Serves: 4 as a side
Note: You’ll need to plan ahead to soak the grits.
Excerpted from South by Sean Brock (Artisan Books). Copyright © 2019. Photographs by Peter Frank Edwards. Used with permission from the publisher.
Copyright Postmedia Network Inc., 2019