*Hey, friends! Today, I’m welcoming my very first guest blogger. Because I’m heading out of town, and because she’s so flippin’ awesome, I asked my (real-life) friend, Crist, to write a guest post on whatever she wanted to write about. Crist and I have known each other for about five years, but have become better friends in the last couple of years. She is my gym buddy and she took the really fun photography class with me. And both of these things were her idea, so I owe her. So she’s posting on my blog. She shares a cooking blog with her friend Christina, and this blog has the cutest title ever. Be sure to add The Dough Will Rise Again to your Reader.
When Erin asked me to do this guest post, she specifically told me that I “have to be funny,” and I thought to myself — crap, I’m only funny when I’m snarky and most of that’s not fit for public consumption! That said, I’m Crist and I’m the idiot Erin’s been going to early morning jazzercise classes with. (Bless her heart.) I’m also a Master Shopping Enabler, hater of most pop culture and movies, and a lover of all things internet/technology-related. I started a blog in 2004 to chronicle my life, but lost my mojo in 2009. In late 2011, I brought my genius back to the masses with The Dough Will Rise Again, a cooking blog I co-author with my imaginary-turned-real-life best friend, Christina.
My culinary skills have evolved greatly over the last 10 years. From throwing some chicken tenders in a skillet and dousing them in a little buffalo sauce and declaring that supper, to hosting my in-law Christmas dinner this past year – I’ve come a really long way. There have been many bumps over the years, and a couple of nights we’ve dumped my hard work in the trash and opted for scrambled eggs. There’s nothing I hate worse than spending a fortune on ingredients and a couple hours in the kitchen only to have the dish turn out just “eh.” But for all the things I’ve mastered — risotto, actually making chicken delicious, a 14-layer chocolate cake for heavens sakes — one thing laughs at me every single time I attempt it. And it’s embarrassing for all involved.
Y’all, I can’t make grits.
I’m a born and bred South Carolinian who’s loved and appreciated grits for as long as I can remember, and yet. The creamy, decedent perfection alludes me every time. Mine are always grainy and not properly seasoned — no matter how much time I spend or how much salt I add, it never seems to be enough. A friend and I were discussing this one day, and she proclaimed, “making grits is a man thing, Crist.” And she’s right. Fortunately, I married a man who can cook most every Southern delicacy; from perfect butterbeans to country fried steak to boston butts, the boy knows his way around a tub of Crisco. And best of all, his grits are perfection… which is likely his heavy handed seasoning, use of a quart of cream, and a lot of butter, along with the patience of Job.
And so, I’ve accepted my lot in life, and just focus on the grits accompaniments. In that spirit, I want to share with you the shrimp and grits we made a couple of weekends ago. It was simplistic and yet complex – I think the vinegar and brown sugar is a great addition to the tomatoes. Mine never quite got as thick as I imagine the recipe writer wanted it to be, but we decided it was as thick as we would want it. For the love, don’t leave off the bacon. And none of that microwave, pre-cooked bacon, y’all. Besides, if you microwave your bacon, what grease do you plan to cook your onions and garlic with? Hmm?
Southern Cheese Grits with Shrimp and Tomato Conserve
via Natalie Dupree’s Shrimp and Grits Cookbook
4 tbsp butter, divided
1 cup grated cheddar cheese
4 cups cooked grits, cooked with milk
2 pounds shrimp, peeled and deveined
½ pound bacon, cooked crisp and crumbled, grease reserved
1 medium onion, chopped
2 tbsp chopped garlic
1 (28-ounce) can diced tomatoes
1 (28-ounce) can crushed tomatoes
¼ cider vinegar1/3 cup brown sugar
Add 2 tablespoons butter and cheese to hot grits.
Heat remaining butter in a large-heavy bottomed frying pan and saute the shrimp quickly, until they turn pink. Remove shrimp with a slotted spoon and set aside.
To make the conserve, add the onion and garlic to the buttered pan with bacon grease and cook until soft, about 4 minutes. Add the tomatoes, vinegar and brown sugar and simmer for 20-25 minutes, or until the sauce is thick and jam-like. Remove from heat and stir in shrimp.
Serve over the hot grits. Top with crumbled bacon.