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Football Food: Shrimp & Grits

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With Clemson coming to town, we hit up the Lowcountry for a little coastal southern fare.

Beat Clemson. Mmm.
Beat Clemson. Mmm.
fishoutofwater

Okay, so Clemson isn't technically part of the Lowcountry, which encompasses a good stretch of the South Carolina and Georgia coast - the university and it's town are on the western side of the state, about as far as you can get from the Atlantic and still be in SC. Still, we wanted to take this opportunity to enjoy some Lowcountry cuisine - think southern seafood.

We're not gonna go crazy with Frogmore Stew or Hoppin' John or anything. Just good old shrimp and grits, a breakfast, lunch, and dinner favorite. I'm not a southerner, nor a shrimp and grits aficionado, but I am a loving fan. The range of genuine Lowcountry shrimp and grits recipes out there is broad: some folks incorporate bell pepper and celery and tomato; some use lots of butter and cream in their grits; some throw in bacon or fat back. What we've got here is pretty basic, and also pretty darn delicious. But when you make this for your football-watching self, feel free to explore what all can fit into this many-faced dish.

These are the ingredients you'll need (this'll serve four):

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Yeah, I know there are no shrimp in that picture. They were otherwise occupied at the time it was taken. We'll get to them.

GRITS

1 tablespoon butter

1 garlic clove, minced

2 teaspoons fresh thyme, chopped

1 cup water

2 cups chicken broth

1 1/2 cups milk (higher fat content in the milk makes for creamier grits - you can definitely just go ahead and use cream; I used a mix of low fat milk and half-n-half, which probably broke a few South Carolina city ordinances)

1 1/2 cup yellow corn grits

a handful of parmesan cheese

salt and freshly cracked black pepper to taste

SHRIMP

1 pound of shrimp (a medium-sized shrimp works well - I used 21-30 count)

1 shallot, minced

1/2 teaspoon fresh thyme, chopped

1/2 cup white wine

2 tablespoons butter

1 tablespoon lemon juice

1 tablespoon water

a little fresh parsley, minced (for garnish)

diced scallions (for garnish)

We'll start with the grits. Melt the butter in a large saucepan or soup pot over medium heat (nonstick is a big plus with grits, if you have one).

shrimp & grits 2

Sauté the garlic and thyme for a minute or two, then add the water, broth, and milk and bring to a low boil over high heat.

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(That's the pan and butter for the shrimp getting ready next to the liquid for the grits.)

Whisk in the grits, reduce heat to low, and stir regularly until the grits are finished cooking to your taste, 10-20 minutes later. I like to cover the pot half way with a lid to avoid the splatter of popping, bubbling grits. Throw in the parmesan and season to taste - you really, really want to season the grits well, with a lot of salt and pepper. You've got to get those flavors to pop. Remove from the heat and cover to keep warm.

While the grits are bubbling, you can take care of the shrimp. I used raw, frozen, peeled, cleaned, and deveined shrimp, with tails on, which I thawed in a colander in the refrigerator - just be sure to clean your shrimp if they need it. Sauté the shallot in a tablespoon of butter over medium heat until the shallot is translucent.

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Add the shrimp and thyme and sauté until the shrimp are pink and cooked through, about 5-6 minutes (this will depend on the size of your shrimp).

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Remove the shrimp to a nearby bowl and cover to keep warm. De-glaze the pan with 1/2 cup white wine and simmer about 4-6 minutes over medium heat. Reduce the heat to low and add a tablespoon of butter and stir until melted; then stir in the lemon juice and water.

Serve the shrimp over the grits and drizzle a little of the sauce over the whole thing. Garnish with minced fresh parsley and scallions. Then enjoy while you watch Notre Dame take on that team from South Carolina.

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