One of my favorite stories to hear my dad or my grammy tell, usually after dinner when we’re all gathered around the table, is about the way my grandad approached cooking.
On a Saturday morning he would get his recipe out, go wash his truck, and then drive around town and pick up necessary ingredients. When he finished shopping and arrived home, he’d go into the kitchen, light his pipe, and brew a pot of coffee. Then he’d cook, keeping the kitchen clean as he went along.
The day would end with lots of friends and family gathered at Grammy and Grandad’s house to feast on whatever Grandad had made. His two most famous offerings were crab cakes and cioppino, and I so wish I would have been old enough to appreciate those to the fullest.
Quite a few similarities exist between the way I cook and the way my grandad cooked. I always pick out a recipe and read it thoroughly, making a list of the items I need to buy. I don’t have a truck to wash, and will never smoke a pipe, but I have been known to drink a cup of coffee while cooking once in a while (though in this hot weather I opt for anything iced). I also try to clean up while I cook so the kitchen isn’t a disaster when I finally sit down to eat.
I would love to be able to cook with my grandad; I think we would have made a splendid team. (And I also would love to know the secrets to his cioppino.)
From what I’m told, I think he would have liked this dish- one of the first recipes to jump out at me in Bon Appetit this month, most likely because I adore shrimp and I love grits. Plus, it makes my dad super happy when I make anything Southern (biscuits for dessert, anyone?) so I couldn’t wait to try it.
If you can think of no other reason to make this adaptation of shrimp and grits, make it because you get to grate corn cobs on a box grater. Fun stuff! But really, make it because it’s fantastic.
recipe adapted from bon appétit
[ serves four ]
for the grits:
3 ears fresh corn, husked
2 cups low-sodium chicken broth
1 cup whole milk
1 ½ cups water
¾ cup grits (I used stone ground white grits from Trader Joe's)
2 tablespoons butter
Salt + pepper, to taste
for the shrimp:
¼ cup olive oil
2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
½ teaspoon dried oregano
½ teaspoon smoked paprika
A few pinches of cayenne pepper
1 ½ pounds tail-on shrimp, peeled, deveined
Chopped fresh chives, for garnish
Set a box grater in the bottom of a large, wide mixing bowl, and grate two ears of corn on the side with the largest holes. You’ll end up with a pile of finely grated corn kernels and a puddle of juice. Scrape it all into a little prep bowl and set aside. Cut the kernels off of the remaining corn cob and set aside.
In a medium pot, bring the chicken broth, milk, and water to a boil. Turn the heat down to a simmer and slowly whisk in the grits. Cook over simmering heat for 20-30 minutes, whisking frequently.
About 15 minutes into the grit cooking time, heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the garlic, oregano, paprika, and cayenne to the oil and stir around, cooking for about 30 seconds. Mix in the cut corn kernels and cook for about 3 minutes. The corn will start to turn golden as it sizzles and pops. Toss in the shrimp and cook for 5-7 minutes, or until cooked through.
When the shrimp has been added to the skillet to cook, finish the grits by whisking in the butter along with the grated corn kernels and juice. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
Serve the shrimp and corn over the grits, and sprinkle fresh chives over each plate.