Friday, October 30, 2009

Southern Tradition

At a vastly more upscale restaurant, Bistro in Greensboro, North Carolina, I was introduced to a low country tradition, shrimp and grits. It was nearly enough, all by itself, to have me thinking about spending part of the year in the South.

The closest recipe I can find on is this one, but I know there was more to it than this. The Bistro version of shrimp and grits paired mildly spicy, tomato-based sauce and sweet shrimp with richly cheesy grits with fresh corn mixed in. There were fresh herbs in the grits as well and the red sauce was deeply flavored, as if it had been cooked for a long time or started with a special stock, even though the shrimp were not over done. The fresh corn gave a lightness and a sweetness to the grits, which were themselves more textured than what I think of as the plain white, grainy "breakfast grits."

I bought a bag of water mill stone ground white grits to bring home in my suitcase - they seem to have the coarser texture I enjoyed in the shrimp and grits dish. I have some 'sperimenting to do in the next few weeks to come up with a dish as delish as the one at Bistro.

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Blogger namastenancy said...

You know, the stone ground corn meal has a finer texture than the coarser ground corn meal. You could probably find a whole selection of corn meal at the Berkeley Bowl or the other well know health food store in the East Bay (I forget the name). Now, you know that cheesy grits are no good without pan fried ham and red eye gravy. You DO know that, don't you?

Saturday, October 31, 2009  
Blogger Zoomie said...

Nancy, I am afraid of the Berkeley Bowl - I'm not tough enough to go there. However, I got some stone ground grits while in NC and will use those. I promise also to get some ham to pan fry but I don't know what red eye gravy is. Shall I Google it or would you care to enlighten me? :-)

Sunday, November 01, 2009  
Blogger namastenancy said...

Red eye gravy is another subject of much controversy; some people make it with coffee and some with chicory or even Cola-Cola! The recipe that I found from Gourmet uses butter but my family used bacon drippings (the better to raise your cholesterol level with my dear), We also added paprika but that’s not traditional either. You can also add a dash of pepper sauce - it doesn't make it too spicy, honest!

Ham and Red-Eye Gravy

Recipe Courtesy of Gourmet Magazine

Prep Time:
10 min
Inactive Prep Time:
0 min
Cook Time:
10 min

4 servings


* 1/2 stick (1/4 cup) unsalted butter
* 1 1/2 pounds baked Virginia ham, cut into 1/2-inch thick slices
* 1/4 cup brewed coffee
* 1/2 cup boiling water
* Hot pepper sauce to taste
* Spoon bread or buttered cooked grits as an accompaniment if desired


In a large skillet heat the butter over moderately high heat until the foam subsides and in it sauté the ham in batches, turning it once, for 2 to 3 minutes on each side, or until it is browned, and transfer it to a platter. Into the skillet pour the coffee and 1/2 cup boiling water and cook the mixture over high heat, scraping up the browned bits, for 2 minutes. Season the gravy with the hot pepper sauce and pepper and pour it over the ham slices. (If desired, strain the gravy before pouring it over the ham.) Serve ham and gravy with spoon bread or grits.

A bit of the history:

Sunday, November 01, 2009  

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