Monday, October 15, 2018

Browned Butter Shrimp and Grits featuring Sumter County Shrimp

Doesn't this look delicious? Well, it was.  I give the credit to the fresh shrimp from Sumter County Shrimp! These puppies were alive this past Thursday morning going about their shrimp-y business.  Harvested Thursday, into my possession via cooler Friday, cleaned and cooked Saturday.   Hard to get any fresher than that folks.  I've blogged about these shrimp before (last year). This is their 2nd year of harvest and I'm a huge fan!  I made this same recipe last year, with super fresh Sumter County Shrimp, and used the photo for my blog header, check it out! ⬆⬆

Here is a link to their page - Sumter County Shrimp, if you are in Alabama reading this you should totally make the trek to their farm in Bellamy, to Tuscaloosa, or Birmingham to get them! More details on their site, on sale through the first weekend in November.  Pics from my first batch are below. 

On to the recipe.  There are a MILLION shrimp and grits recipes.   Researching the "traditional" low country method, the consensus is a simple approach.  Shrimp simply cooked in fat over morning "grits" that were common back in the day for breakfast.  That's right, this started out as a breakfast dish (Breakfast is the best, am I right?).  It's evolved over the years and now seems to be on every gourmet chef's menu across the Southeast and beyond.  I've made a more cajun version with andouille sausage, peppers, and onions, and it's great, but keep going back to this version.  The simplicity really lets the shrimp shine when using good quality shrimp like I am doing here.  

For the Grits, I used smoked gouda, freshly shredded (the food processor attachment I have is my most used kitchen tool hands down), and stone ground grits.  You can use instant or quick-cooking grits, but should seriously give the stone ground ones a try.   If you aren't using stone ground, check the type and use the appropriate grit to liquid ratio.  If you start cooking these before you do anything else, they will be done when the shrimp are done if you are going to be peeling and maybe de-heading a bunch of shrimp.   For some extra shrimpiness, use shrimp stock vs water or chicken stock to cook your grits.  I made a huge batch of shrimp stock with the heads and shells of last years harvest, froze it in 2 cup increments.  You can make a quick stock with heads and shells in 15 mins, or go all out and throw in veggies and seasonings and let it simmer a couple of hours.  

Stone Ground Grits

4 cups water or stock of your choice
1 cup stone ground grits
8 ounces gouda cheese, freshly grated
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated black pepper

1 cup whole milk or half and half


  1. Bring the stock to a boil, then turn down the heat to low (to prevent scorching your grits).
  2. Add the grits and stir for a minute or two, don't want to burn the grits on the bottom.
  3. Cover, let simmer for 15-20 minutes, stirring every 5 minutes or so. 
  4. Add butter and milk.  Bring back up to a simmer stirring constantly.  Let simmer again for 20-25 minutes.  
  5. Add salt and pepper, stir. 
  6. Remove from heat and add in cheese, stir, and cover to keep warm and help melt the cheese.  Set aside. 


1.5 lbs pound raw peeled shrimp
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated black pepper
1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
1/4 teaspoon chipotle chili powder
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 garlic cloves, finely minced
2 tablespoons freshly snipped chives

2 ears grilled sweet corn, cut from the cob


  1. Pat the shrimp completely dry with paper towels and place in a large bowl.  
  2. Mix together your seasonings starting with salt through cumin. 
  3. Pour the seasonings over the shrimp and mix until evenly coated.  
  4. Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat and add the butter. 
  5. Once it’s melted and begins to sizzle, add the shrimp in batches (don’t overcrowd it!) and cook on both sides until pink.  This will only take a minutes or so per side.  I've found once I get them all in the pan, it's time to turn the first ones. The butter will brown as the shrimp cooks and you can whisk it occasionally to prevent it from burning. 
  6. When the shrimp is finished, remove them all to a plate. 
  7. Stir in the garlic into the melted butter and cook for 10-15 seconds, don't burn the garlic. Remove pan from the heat.   You will drizzle this over the shrimp. 
  8. To serve: Ladle the grits on a plate or bowl.  Put the shrimp on top.  Drizzle the garlic browned butter over the shrimp.  Sprinkle grilled corn and chives over the top. Eat! 

I had a helper this time cooking the shrimp and she did great.  You want to cook them in an even layer, not crowding them, in multiple batches. Don't overcook them!   

TIP: So how do you know if you've overcooked them?  I found this helpful - If they look like a "C" they are cooked.  If they curl up into a concentric "O" with top and bottom overlapping, they are Overcooked.  C = cooked.  O = overcooked.  They will keep cooking slightly too when taken off the heat, so keep that in mind.  

Side item suggestion - Balsamic mushrooms.  My husband suggested to add some acidity to balance out the rich grits.  Great idea by him.  Saute some sliced mushrooms, drizzle with a couple tablespoons balsamic vinegar and white wine.  Continue to saute' for a couple of minutes, then remove with a slotted spoon from the liquid.   

Crusty bread is great too! We slice ours, drizzle with olive oil, salt and pepper, and brown in the oven at 450 for 3 mins or so, until just starting to brown.  

Happy cooking!  

Tuesday, October 2, 2018

Greek Chicken Sheet Pan Dinner

I love Greek food.  It just generally tastes awesome.  There is no such thing as too much feta either.  NO SUCH THING.  I do NOT like olives, which can be a problem in Greek recipes and dishes, but they are usually pretty easy to find and pick out or just omit.   I am home-made tzatziki sauce challenged, so love the stuff from pretty much every Greek restaurant I've ever been too.   Oh and pita bread, can't beat the fresh stuff from a restaurant.  I have tried and have been pretty successful at making pita bread at home, but it's a lot of work. So let's be honest that doesn't happen all that often.  So other than pita and tzatziki, I'm a fan of making Greek food at home and generally eating Greek food all the time.

This recipe is super easy, which is why I want to share it, because it is insanely easy.  There is a little bit of rough chopping, some stirring, but mostly just waiting for it to cook.  Everything cooks on one pan = easy clean up.  And it is really tasty. 

If you are an olive fan, sprinkle  chopped or sliced olives on at the end when you sprinkle the feta.  I've made this with both chicken breasts and thighs, and either works great! I'm usually a fan of thighs because they are less likely to dry out, and have a little more inherent flavor.  But it's totally up to you! Photo above is a previous time I've made this using thighs, photo below is with chicken breasts.  Also I've thrown on small tomatoes, like grape tomatoes, and they roast up nicely and add a little extra something to the dish.  Not required though.

The marinade 

Ready for the marinade, coat everything well and mix.  Aren't all the colors pretty! 
 Tip: The best way to make sure everything is coated with the marinade is to use your hands.  Really. just drizzle the marinade over everything, then toss around with your hands to get a good coating on everything.  You can wash your hands as long as you want afterwards since EEK you touched raw chicken.  That is what soap is for people!

Time to eat! 

Side salad and some bread = done! 

Greek Chicken Sheet Pan Dinner


      • 3 tablespoons olive oil
      • 2 tablespoons lemon juice, fresh
      • 4 garlic cloves, minced
      • 1/2 teaspoon salt
      • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
      • 2 teaspoons paprika
      • 2 teaspoons oregano, dried or 1 tablespoon fresh

    For Veggies and Chicken
      • 4 whole chicken breasts, skinless and boneless, or 8 chicken thighs, skinless and boneless
      • 2 red peppers, sliced thick
      • 1 red onion, cut into 8 wedges
      • 8 whole garlic cloves, peeled but not smashed, kept whole
      • 1 pound baby mixed color potatoes, skin on, quartered
      • 1/4 cup crumbled Feta
      • whole lemon cut into thick slices or wedges (I use the one squeezed for the marinade)

    1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees
    2. Combine all marinade ingredients in small bowl.
    3. Place sliced veggies on large sheet pan.
    4. Place Chicken in and around the vegetables. Everything should generally be in one layer on the pan. 
    5. Pour marinade all over veggies and rub onto the chicken.
    6. Arrange mixture evenly, and nestle sliced lemons around sheet pan.
    7. Place in oven and roast for 30-35  minute or until veggies are slightly brown and chicken is done all the way through.   
    8. Sprinkle with crumbled feta. 
    9. Eat! 

    Adapted from Laughing Spatula - awesome source for healthy quick and easy recipes!