Mike

Shrimp and Grits

This is a fairly simple recipe that I think is really good. This is a base recipe which can be easily changed up by adding tasso, diced tomatoes, chopped onions, bell peppers, or just let your imagination run.  Feel free to change-up the cheese in the grits. All the stirring of the grits makes it somewhat high maintenance so I avoid cooking both parts of this recipe at the same time. Use whatever type of oil that makes you happy to sauté the shrimp.  I’ve used canola, plain vegetable, butter, olive, grape seed, and bacon grease – it’s all good. I like to season the shrimp at least an hour ahead to allow the different flavors to soak into the shrimp.

Grits

4 cups water
1 cup of white grits (not instant)
tbsp salt
1 cup parmesan cheese
¼ cup heavy cream
¼ stick of butter cut into ¼” slices 

Shrimp

2 pounds of jumbo shrimp peeled and deveined
2  tbsp Creole seasoning
1 lemon
2 tbsp garlic
1 tsp dried rosemary (crush or chop into small pieces)
1 tsp dried thyme
3 bay leaves
1 cup of shrimp stock – clam juice is a good substitute, chicken stock is OK, water if you must
1 cup beer
½ stick of butter cut into ¼” slices
1 tbsp corn starch
Enough cooking oil to cover bottom of pan

Bring 4 cups of water and salt to a boil. Add the grits. Reduce heat to low. You pretty much have to constantly stir this to keep the grits from lumping up. I use a whisk. As the grits begin to thicken add the heavy cream and parmesan cheese. Stir in the butter. You want the grits thick enough to support the shrimp. When done cover and set aside.

Season shrimp with ¼ of the Creole seasoning. Heat cooking oil in high sided 12” skillet or black iron pot. Add the shrimp and sauté to half done – just brown enough on each side to leave some flavor in the pot.  Remove, squeeze lemon over shrimp and set aside. Don’t crowd the pot when doing this step – do several batches. Also don’t let the oil start smoking. Once you are done with all the shrimp, sauté the garlic and add the rosemary, bay leaves and thyme. Squeeze in any remaining lemon juice. Just as the garlic starts to brown slowly add the shrimp stock then the beer. Add a tbsp of the Creole seasoning. Let this come to a slow boil and add the butter.  This next step is optional, but will give you a thicker sauce. With some type of cup remove about a ½ cup of the liquid and stir in the corn starch making sure there are no lumps. Stir this mixture back into the pot and bring to slow boil. Taste and add more of the seasoning to your taste if needed. Return the shrimp to the pot and simmer until the shrimp are fully cooked. Serve in a bowl over the grits.

Advertisements

Shrimp and Oyster Scampi

This recipe is derived from a shrimp scampi recipe I found in a cookbook from the famous Rao’s Italian Restaurant in New York City called Rao’s Cookbook Over 100 Years of Italian Home Cooking. It’s a great cookbook with lots of historical family and restaurant information. I actually read this cookbook cover to cover and recommend it if you are looking for some great Italian recipes. The biggest change I made was to add oysters.

You could substitute the oysters for more shrimp (omit cornmeal), or if you are not into seafood switch to chicken or veal.

A pound of large shrimp should yield about 20-25 shrimp. I used 4 shrimp and 4 oysters per serving.

20121105-160050.jpg

Ingredients

1 lb large shrimp, peeled, deveined, and butterflied
1 pint of raw oysters
1 ½ cups flour
½ cup white corn meal
2 cups seasoned olive oil
1 ½ cups dry white wine
1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
2 tbsp minced garlic
8 tbsp butter
3 tbsp Creole season (adjust to your taste)
2 tbsp lemon juice
½ cup chicken broth
1 tbsp dried parsley
8 – 12 ounces of pasta (I used thin spaghetti)

Method

Start the pasta. Don’t forget about it while you are preparing the rest of the dish.  For that reason you may want to prepare head.

This dish moves pretty fast, so it would be a good idea to have all your ingredients at reach.

Keep seafood separate. Drain the oysters and pat dry as best you can. Pat the shrimp dry. I used paper towels. Season both with 1 tbsp Creole seasoning each.

Place 1 cup of the flour in a shallow bowl. Dredge shrimp in flour, coating the seafood thoroughly.

Mix the remaining cup of flour with the cornmeal. Dredge the oysters in the mix, coating all sides.

I used two skillets, one for the shrimp and another for the oysters. I find oysters leave a stronger flavor in the pan residue and I did not want the gritty cornmeal residue blending in my sauce. Heat 1 cup of oil in each skillet over med-high heat. Add the seafood and sauté for 2 to 3 minutes or until seafood has begun to brown. (Do not crowd pan; sauté in batches, being extra careful not to burn the residue in shrimp skillet.) Remove the seafood from skillets and drain off as much excess oil as possible in the shrimp skillet saving the crusty residue. Return the shrimp skillet to the heat once you have all the ingredients in the next paragraph ready to add. You still need to avoid burning the flour residue.

Slowly stir in the wine, Worcestershire sauce, and garlic. When well combined, whisk in 4 tablespoons butter. Stir in lemon juice and broth. Taste and add remaining Creole seasoning to your taste and return to a boil. Always wait to add more seasoning until after you add the broth since it greatly increases the salt taste. Return the shrimp and oysters to the skillet and stir them around in the sauce to let everything swap flavors.

Using a slotted spoon, remove the seafood from the skillet to a warm serving platter.

Boil sauce for 2 minutes, whisking in parsley and the remaining butter. If the sauce looks like it separating, try shaking the skillet back and forth instead of whisking – careful to not let the sauce lap over the side. You might be better off with a separated sauce than a messy stove or a fire. Pour the sauce into the serving dish over the shrimp and oysters. Serve over the pasta.


Creole Jambalaya

To me jambalaya is a fall or winter dish. I am always nervous or fidgety when LSU or the Saint’s or playing, so you might find me cooking Jambalaya while watching the game on TV to help me relax. It’s also fun to cook while sucking down a few beers at tailgate parties. This is my newest jambalaya recipe. I call it creole because it includes tomatoes and a more complex seasoning mix which contains thyme, oregano, and allspice. Sometimes I include shrimp, but I’ll save that for another post. If you don’t wish to make the seasoning mix, a store bought brand like Tony’s or Slap Your Mama will substitute just fine. I make my own seasoning for just about all my cooking because I believe it gives me more control of the flavors. Seasonings in a dish should be to your liking so feel free to tweak my recipe.

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 pound bacon, diced
  • ½ cup of oil
  • 1 pound andouille sausage, diced
  • 1 pound ground pork sausage, removed from casings
  • 1 pound skinless, boneless chicken thighs, roughly cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 1 pound pork roughly cut into 1-inch pieces I like to use boneless country style ribs
  • 1.5 cups of rice – converted rice such as Uncle Bens works best. If you use regular rice rinse it.
  • 3 cups of water or beef broth (I use water then add a couple spoonfuls of Better Than Bullion)
  • 2 large onions, diced
  • 2 bell peppers, seeded and diced
  • 1 jar of roasted red and/or yellow bell peppers sliced
  • 1 tbsp garlic, minced
  • 2 dried bay leaves
  • 1 can crushed or diced tomatoes
  • 1 bunch green onions, chopped
  • 1 tbsp dried parsley. 2 if fresh

Seasoning mix

  • 2 tbsp kosher salt
  • 1 tbsp paprika
  • 1 tbsp ground black pepper
  • 1 tsp ground white pepper
  • 1 tsp ground cayenne pepper
  • 1 tsp Dried thyme
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 tsp celery salt
  • 1 dash allspice
  • 1 Dash Crushed red pepper

Method

For this dish you’ll need a large pot. I used my number 12 black iron pot which is about 12” across with 5” sides. If you have a smaller pot, reduce the meat to ½ pound portions.

Heat the oil in the pot and brown the andouille sausage, stirring slowly with a long wooden spoon or a spade. While this is browning, go ahead and season the chicken thighs and pork chunks with about a tablespoon of the seasoning mix. Once the sausage is browned remove and set aside. Add the pork chunks to the pot, stirring, and cook until is becomes slightly seared, about 5 minutes.

After the pork is browned remove and set aside. Rendere the bacon (your choice whether to remove it or leaveit , but the rimnants sure are good on a slice of bread while cooking). Add the onions to the pot and allow them to caramelize, stirring for about 15 minutes. Add the green bell peppers, and garlic and cook for about 5 minutes. Continue stirring from time to time so that everything in the pot cooks evenly. Add the ground pork sausage and stir until browned. Return the set aside meats to the pot. Stir well

Next add the rice, bay leaves and a tablespoon or so of the seasoning mix and stir often for 3-5 minutes. You want the seasoning to coat the other ingredients and allow them to begin swapping flavors with each other. (Continue this step longer if there is a lot of liquid leftover from vegetables to allow the liquid to reduce.)

Increase the heat to high and add the tomatoes, roasted peppers and beef stock to the pot. Taste and add more seasoning if desired. Bring the pot to a boil. Reduce the burner to it’s lowest setting and put the lid on the pot. Don’t peak for 30 minutes. (A second option would be to place the pot in a preheated oven at 350 degrees for 30 minutes once it returns to a boil.)

After 30 minutes turn off the stove (or remove from oven) and remove the lid from the pot. Stir well, and then fold in the green onions and parsley. There will likely be about a ½ inch of liquid on top when you first remove the lid. Return the lid and let it rest for an additional 10 minutes. Remove the lid, fluff the jambalaya and serve.

How to rescue a jambalaya

Sometimes when a jambalaya is opened at the 30 minute mark there is too much water or more likely, the rice is crunchy. Don’t freak out. These problems are caused by an incorrect liquid to rice ratio. For crunchy rice stir in a cup more water and let it sit covered for 15 minutes. For too watery, remove the lid and let it sit for 15 more minutes.

20120926-182747.jpg


Lump Crabmeat Casserole – Leave an Impression or Find Salvation

Looking to impress a date, boss, in-laws, client or get yourself out of the doghouse? Although pricey, this recipe is easy to make and leaves a great impression. The key to this meal is to use quality crabmeat and try to keep as many lumps intact as possible. Prep time is less than 30 minutes and can be done while you entertain your guests, then have some conversation over a bottle of wine while the casserole bakes. Of course you may wish bake ahead and keep the simpleness a secret. Another version of this dish is to omit the panko, and serve cold over a bed of lettuce, either as an appetizer or entrée.
 
Ingredients:

1 lb jumbo lump crabmeat
1 lb crab claw meat
1 stick butter
1/2 minced shallots (substitute 1/4 cup minced onion and 1/4 cup minced garlic)
1/4 cup green onions
1/4 cup parsley
1 cup Hellmann’s Dijonnaise
1 tbsp creole seasoning
1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
1/4 cup lemon juice
1 cup panko bread crumbs

Method:

Chill a large mixing bowl. (I like to do every thing I can to keep the crabmeat cold, not only for food safety, but to keep the lump crabmeat intact.) Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter an 8 – 10 inch square or 2 qt casserole dish with two tablespoons of butter.

Dump the crabmeat in the chilled bowl. (Remove any shell fragments you find during the course of preparation.)  Place back in the refrigerator.

Melt 2 tbsp of butter in a skillet and sauté the shallots until clear.  Remove from heat and stir in the parsley and green onions.

In a separate mixing bowl whisk the Dijonnaise, seasoning, Worcestershire sauce and lemon juice together. 

Remove the bowl of crabmeat from the refrigerator and add the sautéed vegetables, half of the panko, Dijonnaise mixture over the crabmeat and gently fold together until well mixed. 

Melt the remaining butter and mix into the panko. 

Pour the crabmeat into the casserole dish and top with the panko. 

Place the casserole into the oven and bake until the panko is golden brown and the mixture is bubbly – about 30 minutes.


Shish Kabobs with Blue Cheese and Raspberry Vinaigrette Sauce

One night last week I woke up at 3am and could not fall back asleep.  So I thought about some possible new dishes. This is what I came up with and I tried it out for the Fourth of July.  Maybe you could say I dreamed it up.  It involves shish kabobs, a marinade, blue cheese and raspberry vinaigrette sauce.  I tried it with pork and beef. It came out well enough for me to pass it on. Chicken would work also, but I would not add meat tenderizer to the marinade.

Ingredients:

1 pound beef top sirloin cut into 1 inch chunks  (I wanted boneless country-style beef ribs, but they were sold out)
1 pound of boneless country-style pork ribs
1 cup blue cheese crumbled
1 cup of raspberry vinaigrette
bamboo skewers (I used 6 for the meat, but always soak more than I need. Let the ones not used dry save for next time.)

Marinade:

1/4 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup of red wine vinegar
1/4 cup molasses
1/4 cup sesame oil
2 tbsp honey
2 tbsp minced garlic
1 tbsp creole seasoning
1 tsp meat tenderizer

Method:
Combine all the marinade ingredients and mix well. Place the meat in two separate gallon size ziplock bags. Pour equal parts of the marinade in each bag. Refrigerate for at least 6 hours.  Over-nite would be better.

Two hours before cooking soak the skewers in water to keep them from burning.

30 minutes before cooking time (or while the charcoal is heating up) pour one cup of the raspberry vinaigrette in a small sauce pan. Bring to a slow boil to reduce it and allow to thicken up. Take the meat out of refrigerator and skewer. I kept the meat together and put veggies on other skewers. I didn’t want the blue cheese and sauce on the veggies. You might like it that way. I see no reason you could not mix it all up.

When the grill is ready, place the kabobs on the grill over the heat and start cooking. (I don’t like to crowd my grill. I like to see the glowing coals or gas flames. This allows sufficient heat to pass upwards between the meat.) When the meat is done to your liking push the skewers close together. Now sprinkle the blue cheese over the meat and allow it to slightly melt. Carefully remove the meat and drizzle with the raspberry vinaigrette.


Fried Green Tomatoes

No, I am not speaking of the movie back in the early 1990’s. There is such a thing as fried green tomatoes. Un-ripened green tomatoes work best for this recipe because they have less juice and are firmer than a ripe tomato. This is so easy to make, that I am putting it into my Easy Summer Series category.  

Last weekend I was frying up some fish. My garden has an overabundance of tomatoes now, so I decided to pick a few and fry them up. I already had everything I needed, hot grease, fish fry mix and hungry mouths. The only thing I added was a milk and egg mixture to  bind the mix to the tomatoes. I use dry mix for my fish. The tomatoes I used for this recipe were my Creole and Super Steak varieties. That doesn’t really matter, any green tomato will do especially since they have not reached their full flavor at this point.

Slice the tomatoes into 1/4 inch slices. Season with your favorite seasoning blend or my Creole Seasoning.

One at a time, mix each tomato into a bowl of dry fish fry mix, then dip into the milk egg mixture, and back into the dry mix.

Once all the tomato slices are battered, deep fry in 350 degree oil. Cook until they float. Also, do not crowd. Give them room to swim. They should be golden brown. (You can also pan fry in a skillet with 1/2 inch of oil and flip them once.)

My dipping sauce is good with the fried green tomatoes.


Dipping Sauce

There is a great fast food chain that started in Baton Rouge called Raising Cane’s. Their specialty and only item is fried chicken strips.  Their best kept secret is their dipping sauce. Although I have not been able to duplicate their recipe, here is my version. I find it goes really well with chicken strips, fried green tomatoes and fried alligator. 

Ingredients

  • 1 cup of mayonnaise
  • 1/4 ketchup
  • 1 tbsp garlic powder
  • 1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1 tsp Creole seasoning
  • ½ tsp fresh cracked pepper

Method

Combine all ingredients in a mixing bowl. Whisk it well it to make sure everything is blended together. Cover and refrigerate for several hours. This sauce develops it’s best taste when the ingredients have had some time swap flavors with each other in the refrigerator.