We do a lot of talking about Southern foods. Maybe it’s because we miss them so! There’s something comforting and familiar with all of the foods we remember from our respective youths (even if that youth extended to our college years). We associate these foods with memories of family and friends on birthdays and holidays. No Thanksgiving or Christmas are complete without key dishes that only certain people are entrusted to make, and they know exactly who they are. One of the Southern dishes we’ve lamented the loss of would be shrimp and grits. It’s not a complicated meal, but it is full of complexity in its own right. A mouthwatering bowl of shrimp and grits will remind you of all that is good in the world, and you will be craving more. Oh yes, it is that serious, and you’ll see why.
In one of last summer’s Guest Test Kitchen features, we shared a good friend’s recipe for shrimp and grits. A year later, we are back with shrimp and grits, but this time, we’re flipping the switch. That’s what we’re known for of course! We met up with online and real life friend, Carole, actress and green blogger galore. She’s also a Southern girl from Georgia who knows exactly what we’re talking about when it comes to shrimp and grits. It was time for burger and fries, but we went for crab and shrimp burgers next to baked grits fries. Outstanding! We topped the burgers with freshly roasted peppers that we popped on the grill, steamed, peeled and sliced up. There’s also a spicy homemade tartar sauce with sriracha. The grits fries were crunchy on the outside but creamy on the inside. Each bite was peppered with crunchy bits of garlic that burst in the mouth and kept us reaching for more. Put these two together, and you will appeal to anyone who has a hankering for their days below the Mason Dixon line.
Crab and Shrimp Burgers – Serves 8
1 1/2 cups large shrimp, cleaned, peeled and chopped
1 1/2 cups fresh crab meat
Zest and juice of 1 lemon
1 teaspoon Tabasco sauce
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons mayonnaise
1 jalapeno, deseeded and minced
1 medium onion, chopped
4 tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped
1/2 teaspoon white pepper
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
1/3 cup panko crumbs
1 egg, lightly whisked
1 1/2 cups bread crumbs
1/4 cup seafood seasoning (A good friend from New Orleans gifted us with River Road seasonings!)
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, optional
1. In a large bowl, carefully mix all of the ingredients except the breadcrumbs, seafood seasoning and butter. Form into 8 patties and set on a baking sheet. Chill for an hour.
2. In a small bowl, whisk together the bread crumbs and seafood seasoning. Once the patties have chilled, cover all sides of the patties with the bread crumb mixture and lay on a separate baking sheet. Bake in an oven preheated to 375 degrees for 15-20 minutes, flipping once.
3. If desired, top each patty with a bit of butter and set the burgers onto a vegetable grill basket. Heat for 1-2 minutes on a preheated grill just for flavor and a little color. Serve on warm buns.
Garlic Grits Fries – Serves 4 to 6
1 cup grits
3 cups water
1 cup milk
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1/2 cup mozzarella cheese, shredded
Dried garlic (Amir had Garlic Gold Nuggets in the back of his pantry!)
1. Cook the grits with the water and milk according to the package directions. Stir in the cheese and salt just before removing from heat.
2. Carefully pour the hot grits into a large, shallow plastic container. Allow the grits to cool down to room temperature. Cover, then chill overnight.
3. When ready, overturn the grits onto a large cutting board and cut into 1/2″ wide pieces. Lay them on a parchment paper covered baking sheet, sprinkle with dried garlic and bake in a preheated oven at 425 degrees for 30-40 minutes or until browned. Flip them once to brown all sides.
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