This Yankee-turned-Deep-South resident doesn’t need any convincing to eat grits in any form — classic cheese, light-and-crispy waffles, salumi-stuffed arancini? I’m there. But shrimp, well, that’s another story. That is, until I met this version of shrimp and grits inspired by a friend’s visit to The Lady and Sons. Swimming in a creamy pool of highly-seasoned sauce studded with a generous amount of spicy, smokey tasso ham, all served over intensely cheesy grits, it’s nothing short of indulgent. Be prepared to fall in love at first bite.
I’ve wanted to share this recipe for quite some time now, but whenever I sit down to get writing I’ve been at a loss for words. That is, anything beyond DELICIOUS, MAKE THIS NOW and enthusiastic MMMMMMMMS. Of course, the latter may be attributed to the fact that I’ve had a forkful of this tangy, sweet-savory braised pork and cheesy grits goodness in my mouth at pretty much every opportunity since early fall, therefore rendering me incapable of producing more than sound effects. (Only slightly hyperbolic…) But seriously, I can’t keep this one to myself any longer, so here it goes.
We start off with a can of a delightfully balanced, local-to-me hard cider from Cigar City Cider and Mead. If you can’t find it, no worries. Crispin original or your favorite non-spiced variety should do just fine. You can also go completely booze-free with the non-hard stuff or even some unfiltered apple juice (Trader Joe’s in the refrigerated section is my fave, and tastes delicious with a splash of bourbon and a few shakes of bitters). Into a saucepan it goes to simmer away by half, concentrating the flavors. Be prepared: Your home will smell amazing.
Last Wednesday morning, I awoke to a beautiful sight on my Twitter feed, these buttermilk and grits waffles from Southern Souffle — I just had to make them! I immediately got to work on a gluten-free adaptation, and was in the kitchen, waffle iron preheating, maybe fifteen minutes later. They are virtually the most ethereal cornbread you’ve ever had, nice and crisp on the outside and light in fluffy in the middle, a fantastic breakfast treat — even David, who isn’t usually a cornbread fan, came back for seconds. They are simply addictive!
There’s this hole-in-the-wall Mexican restaurant in Palo Alto that got me totally hooked on sopes (so-pays). If you’re unfamiliar with sopes — not to be confused with sopa (so-pah) or soup — they are akin to a very thick corn tortilla (shaped not unlike a hockey puck with raised sides, forming a bowl) that is fried until crisp on the outside and soft in the middle. Utterly delicious. (There are many regional variations, but this is the form I’ve encountered most.)
There is something so delightfully summery about fish tacos. Yes, they’re best when tomatoes are in season, but there’s something else at play. Maybe I’m just picking up on the whole Southern California beach vibe they have going on?
Regardless, these fish tacos make perfect party fare — even better if you set out a spread and let everyone assemble their own. If you go that route, I highly recommend having a few pitchers of margaritas or sangria and plenty of chips and guacamole around to accompany them — a double or triple batch of black bean soup with cumin, chipotle and lime served in small cups would go well, too.