Thursday, December 31, 2009

Too much good food, too little time to blog

We’ve had some fabulous food over the last week or so, but with all the cooking and traveling and visiting with friends and family, I haven’t had any time to write about it! Since almost everyone in m family enjoys cooking, we tend to divvy up responsibilities for meals and dishes. DH and I volunteered to make the main course for the brunch we hosted for some extended family the day after Christmas. DH traditionally cooks grillades and grits for one of our holiday gatherings so that was the original plan. Then, he expressed concern that it was going to be a pretty heavy meal so I agreed to make shrimp and grits as well. I am not sure that it was ultimately a lighter meal since most of us ate both, but it was some really good food.

DH has refined his grillades recipe over the past 14 or so Christmases. He started out making them with veal but switched to beef a few years ago since veal no longer agrees with me. I think that the recipe he first used was Emeril’s, but it has since become his own. I’ll try to get him to write it down so that I can share it because I think it is one of the best dishes he makes!

My parents live on the Mississippi gulf coast where you can get fresh shrimp year-round. We had seen some signs downtown advertising fresh shrimp, so on the afternoon before Christmas we followed the arrows down to a dock where a guy was selling shrimp right off his boat. He had sold all of his catch for the day, but told us to come back at 7:00 the morning after Christmas when he would have more. DH went back and bought about 7 pounds (for $3 a pound!). I used a little more than half of it in the shrimp and grits and DH boiled the other half to take to our third family get-together in Louisiana the next day.

I’ve made shrimp and grits a couple of times before. It was becoming my Christmas Eve tradition until we discovered that W (like his grandfather) is allergic to shrimp. I couldn’t recall what recipe I had used in the past, so I found this Tyler Florence recipe that has great reviews, and then modified it to suit my taste. Over medium heat, I sautéed one medium chopped white onion, the white parts of two bunches of chopped green onions and two tablespoons of minced garlic in a couple of tablespoons of olive oil until soft. Then I added about 2 pounds of medium dice andouille. I love the flavor of andouille but don’t like big slices so I’ve been dicing it for gumbo and jambalaya as well. The sausage was cooked until it had some crispy bits and had rendered a fair amount of fat. Then I sprinkled in about a half-cup of flour to make a blond roux. After the flour had cooked a little, I slowly whisked in four cups of chicken stock and simmered it for about 15 minutes. At that point, I turned off the sauce until about 10 minutes before we were ready to eat. I reheated the sauce and seasoned to taste with salt, pepper and a bit of cayenne, then added a couple of tablespoons of parsley, the tops of the chopped green onions, and about four pounds of shrimp (shells, heads and tails removed). I cooked the shrimp until they were just pink.

For the grits we served with both the shrimp and the grillades, I used a combination of the yellow stone ground grits I bought in Charleston and my locally produced white stone ground grits and cooked then in equal parts water and milk with some butter, salt and pepper.

I must say, I was quite impressed with the results!

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