Sassy Southern Cooking with a French Twist

Recipes

Recipes posted by Holly. Maybe from her books or other sources.

A Shrimp & Grits Christmas

Unwrap a Charleston Food Tradition at Your Christmas Table

Shrimp and grits has become the epitome of elegance; the heart of Charleston cuisine in the minds of many. Originally a simple, quick stew served over long-simmered and stirred grits to feed fishermen after a day at sea, it’s now a principal player at many of Charleston’s best restaurants and locals’ holiday tables.

Donald Barickman, founding chef at Magnolias, often gets credit for putting grits on the elegance map with the addition of cream to his version dating back 30 years ago. But, I contend its rise to prominence has just as much to do with the excellence of its two main ingredients.  The shrimp that inhabits through Charleston’s waters is uniquely delicious. The tidal flows and the grassy marshes both nurture and protect the shrimp, a prince of a shrimp habitat, that yields a sweet,  buttery brine unlike any other, white and brown varieties alike. And, the grits. There are quick and mass-produced varieties available, but served over organic, stone-ground grits available from Anson Mills , you’re in for a toothsome, incomparable, and authentic treat.

This version from Old Village Post House Inn‘s former chef de cuisine, Jim Walker, and featured in The New Charleston Chef’s Table,  uses both. I love this recipe because it’s not very complicated, it’s beautiful, delicious, and relatively easy to prep ahead and finish at the last minute. It’s one of the dishes most requested by my cooking class students and it’s especially enjoyable to prepare, the sweet and piquant fragrance filling the air as it cooks -shrimp, country ham, Cajun seasonings, and andouille sausage. A celebration not just of the season, but of Charleston, it would be a fabulous choice to head your Christmas Eve or Christmas Day table. Do try and get your hands on fresh, wild caught shrimp if you cannot find fresh, local Charleston shrimp and serve it over stone-ground grits. It really makes a difference. I use the shells from the shrimp to cook down with some water into a quick glaze to add to the final sauce or “gravy,” which can be strained and whisked in with the butter (see directions) at the last second.

Old Village Post House Inn Lowcountry Shrimp & Grits

(Serves 4 to 6)

Shrimp & Grits from Old Village Post House Inn as featured in The New Charleston Chef’s Table (Globe Pequot Press, May, 2018) by Holly Herrick

For the grits:

8 cups water

3 cups stone-ground grits

1 stick (1/4 pound) unsalted butter

1 – 1 1/2 cups heavy cream

Sea or kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

For the shrimp sauce:

2 tablespoons vegetable oil

1 3/4 pounds Thibodeaux’s andouille sausage (or substitute another brand), but into approximately 28 1/2-inch thick slices

1 cup cubed country ham (cut into a 1/4-inch thick dice)

1 1/4 pounds large (21-25 count) shrimp, peeled and deveined

1/2 cup peel and seeded tomatoes, finely chopped

1/4 cup scallions, finely sliced

4 teaspoons garlic, minced

4 teaspoons Cajun-style fish blackening seasoning (suggest R.L. Schreiber brand)

1 cup salt-free chicken stock

4 tablespoons unsalted butter

Sea or kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Method:

To prepare the grits, bring the water to a boil over high heat in a large, heavy bottomed pot. Add the grits, stir, and bring back to a boil, stirring constantly with a whisk or flat-tipped wooden spoon to prevent sticking. Continue cooking on low heat, stirring, until thickened (the grits should plop like thick cornbread batter), 30-40 minutes. Turn off the burner and let stand covered, so the grits can continue to slowly absorb the water, for 1 – 2 hours.

Just before serving, reheat the grits over medium heat, stirring for about 5 minutes. Add the butter and heavy cream, stirring to incorporate. Heat through and season to taste with salt and pepper.

Meanwhile, about 20 minutes before serving, prepare the shrimp sauce. Heat the oil over high heat in a large, deep saute pan. When hot and sizzling, add the sausage and country ham. Saute, tossing until the sausage and ham begin to turn golden and caramelize, about 5 minutes. Reduce the heat to medium-high. Add the shrimp, tomato, scallions, minced garlic, and Cajun-style fish blackening seasoning. Saute for another 3 minutes, being sure to combine well and coat the ingredients evenly with the seasoning. Add the chicken stock, increase the heat to high, and cook for 1 minute. Stir in the butter and cook until the shrimp are cooked through, another 1 – 2 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

To serve, ladle the grits into shallow bowls and top with the sauce. Serve immediately.

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With best wishes to you and yours for a beautiful holiday and Christmas season. I promise you, your guests will love this. Not only is it delicious, it is beautiful. For all of these reasons and more, it is featured on the cover of The New Charleston Chef’s Table – which, by the way, makes a beautiful gift for the food and Charleston-lover in your life.

Bon appetit! You can always visit me here with any questions, comments or to book a cooking class or culinary tour. Look for details soon on Cracking the Cookbook Code, a cookbook writing, marketing, and photography retreat I’ll be hosting early next spring with my wonderfully talented friend, culinary professional, blogger, and photographer, Beckie Carrico Hemmerling. Until next time, stay safe, warm, happy, and well fed.

Holly

Cookbook Author and Nationally Awarded Food Writer, Holly Herrick. Photo by Helene Dujardin.

 

 

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Rutabaga Reigns Supreme at Holiday Table

Buttery Parsley Rutabaga Mash 

It may be considered a humble root vegetable, but the knobby rutabaga is transformed into nutty, buttery elegance in this sunset-yellow mash, lightened by a bit of Yukon Gold potato and made silky with butter, sour cream, and colorful flavor flecks of fresh parsley. The potatoes add fluff while the rutabaga adds girth and the kind of flavor that stands up perfectly to beef rib roast, pork, turkey or duck at the holiday table. It’s so delicious, I eat it straight out of the bowl. It could easily play a starring role at a vegetarian holiday table, as well. It is super easy to prepare and can be made a day or two ahead and reheated just before serving.

Buttery Parsley Rutabaga Mash from Mashed Beyond the Potato (Gibbs Smith, 2016) by Holly Herrick. Reprinted with permission from Gibbs Smith Publisher.

Ingredients and Method

(Yields 4 to 6 servings)

1 medium rutabaga

1 tablespoon kosher or sea salt

Water to cover

2 medium Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and cut into 2-inch cubes (about 1 1/2 cups)

TO FINISH

1 cup sour cream

3 tablespoons unsalted butter

Salt and ground black pepper to taste

3 tablespoons finely chopped fresh parsley

Using a sharp paring knife or small chef’s knife, remove the outer skin as well as the tough 1/4-inch thick inner skin of the rutabaga. Cut into 2-inch cubes and place in a medium pot. Add 1 tablespoon salt and enough water to cover. Bring to a boil, reduce to simmer, and cook until the rutabaga starts to soften, about 15 minutes. Add the potatoes and continue to summer another 20 minutes, until both the potatoes and rutabaga are tender when pierced with the tip of a knife.

Strain in a colander and return to the pan with the sour cream, butter, salt, and pepper. Mash with a manual masher or immersion blender until chunky smooth. (If preparing ahead, stop at this point and refrigerate 1 – 2 days in a sealed container in the refrigerator). Just before serving, heat through over medium heat, stir in parsley, and adjust seasonings or add a few tablespoons vegetable stock, chicken stock or water, as needed. Serve warm.

Wishing everyone a beautiful holiday season, whatever holiday you celebrate. May it be joyful, blessed, full of cheer, and especially delicious. Remember you can always check in here with any questions about my recipes, cooking classes, and of course, beautiful Charleston.

Bon appetit!

Holly

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Shrimp, Collards & Grits

I recently came across this beautiful, just-released cookbook by Pat Branning. Actually, Pat a friend and neighbor down in Beaufort was kind enough to send me a signed copy for review.

Shrimp, Collards & Grits by Pat Branning. Cover Art by Ray Ellis.

Shrimp, Collards & Grits by Pat Branning. Cover Art by Ray Ellis.

 

To read about it, please click on this link. Enjoy. It’s a beauty and chock full of luscious art, recipes and writing.

http://charleston.thepermanenttourist.com/for-the-love-of-the-lowcountry/

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Simply Saturday

In today’s column on my new blog, The Permanent Tourist – Charleston, I offer a recipe from Simply Saturday’s column on seasonal, fresh cooking. In this case, a delicious turnip soup and a cookbook giveaway of Southern Farmers Market Cookbook. Come follow me there if you like!

http://charleston.thepermanenttourist.com/simply-saturday/

Southern Farmers Market Cookbook. Photos by Rick McKee.

Southern Farmers Market Cookbook. Photos by Rick McKee.

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Mac ‘n Cheese Dreams

The chilly nights and brisk days of fall bring with them the siren call for some serious comfort food. Truly, what makes better comfort food than a really excellent mac ‘ n cheese? I love to marry disparate cheeses in a creamy bechamel, melt them down, stir them into some pasta, and bake. The key is to use cheeses that pair well – one or two nutty, another one or two perhaps slightly sweet, or even a nice, mild blue cheese. You want to stick with cheeses with a nice melt factor and the best quality you can afford.

This recipe is a delicious way to use over left-over cheese and it truly warms the heart and soul. It comes together quickly. Grate/chop the cheese while the pasta cooks, prepare the bechamel base, whisk in the cheese, toss and bake. Twenty-five minutes later you have a steaming casserole custom made for cheese lovers. Or, prep ahead, refrigerate overnight and bake it off the next evening. With a side of steamed or roasted asparagus, it makes a dreamy, seasonal spring meal.

Creamy with a sharp edge from blended cheeses, this mac ‘n cheese gets a buttery, golden bread crumb crust.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mac ‘n Cheese Dreams

(Serves 12)

1 pound shell pasta, #50 size (I like De Cecco’s conchiglie rigate)

Cold water to cover

3 tablespoons kosher salt or sea salt

1/2 cup coarsely chopped Morbier

1/2 cup coarsely chopped Brie, rind removed

2 cups grated Gruyere

2 cups grated Muenster

For the cheese sauce base/bechamel:

3 tablespoons unsalted butter

3 tablespoons All Purpose flour

4 cups (1 quart) skim milk

Kosher or sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste (Note: season according to the saltiness of the cheese. Better to add more later if needed once the cheese has been added).

1/2 teaspoon dried thyme

For the bread crumbs:

1 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter

1 cup plain bread crumbs

kosher or sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 375F degrees. Generously butter a large baking dish (I used a 4.5 liter Corningware baking dish). Bring a large pot of cold water combined with 3 tablespoons salt up to a rolling boil. Add pasta and stir to blend. Reduce heat to medium high and continue cooking until the pasta is al dente, 10  – 11 minutes. Drain well in a colander. Set aside.

Meanwhile, prep the cheeses and set aside. For the bechamel, melt the butter in a large sauce pan over medium heat. Once melted, whisk in the flour and cook over medium heat, whisking constantly, for about 2 minutes. Pour in the milk all at once and bring up to a boil over high heat, whisking constantly. Season to taste with salt and ground black pepper and add the thyme. Once at a boil, reduce to medium heat and whisk in the cheeses, in batches, until thoroughly combined and melted. Add the cooked, drained pasta to the cheese mixture and stir well to coat. Pour the mixture into the buttered baking pan. Set aside briefly.

In a separate saute pan, melt the remaining 1 1/2 tablespoons butter over medium heat. When melted, add the bread crumbs and stir to coat. Cook for about 1 minute or until the bread crumbs are just golden. Crumble the bread crumbs evenly over the top of the mac ‘n cheese. Bake in the center of the oven until golden and bubbling, about 25 – 30 minutes. Allow 5 minutes to rest before serving. Sprinkle with some fresh chopped parsley if desired.

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