It’s a Southern thing

It’s a Southern thing

Grits are making a comeback. This typically breakfast staple was the culinary highlight of the March of Dimes’ ( recent Signature Chefs Auction benefit at the Doubletree Hotel. Entrées featuring grits made an appearance twice, including Treetops’ mouthful of a dish: braised venison with apple-bacon bleu cheese grits, roasted butternut squash and haricots verts. Also on the benefit’s menu was Lafayette Inn’s ( Shrimp and Grits, which executive chef Gil Zentgraf says is simple to make. “Once you get the component parts made [the grits and the barbecue sauce, which are the most time-consuming], the rest is putting it in a frying pan and getting it done.”

It’s a dish steeped in the African-American Gullah culture, located in the low country of South Carolina and Georgia, where traditional cooking is still a way of life. “The South Carolina Gullah shrimp and grits has been around forever,“ he says. Zentgraf creatively amended the recipe to make it even more of a Southern signature dish of this Stanardsville restaurant: He added barbecue sauce and Southern Comfort.

Lafayette Inn’s Shrimp and Grits

prepared grits (see recipe below)
barbecue sauce (see recipe below)
clarified butter
bell pepper, cut into strips
onion, frenched
8 21/25 shrimp
1 oz. Southern Comfort
scallions, chopped

Add some clarified butter to a hot, 8" sauté pan. Put a handful of sliced onion and pepper strips into the pan. When the vegetables begin to wilt, add the shrimp and toss. Remove from heat and add the Southern Comfort. Return pan to stove and flambé. As the flame dies down, add two ounces of barbecue sauce and simmer until the shrimp have cooked through.
Put a dipper of grits in the bottom of a soup plate. Arrange shrimp with the tails up around the grits. Place vegetables in the center of the grits and drizzle sauce around the outside of the grits. Garnish with chopped scallions and serve. Yields one to two servings.

For the grits:
1/2 gallon whole milk
1/2 lb. butter, salted
2 cups grits, white corn, stone ground
1 pint heavy cream

Pour milk into a 4-quart saucepan and place over medium heat. Add butter, cut into chunks, and grits. Bring to a boil while stirring occasionally. Reduce heat to allow grits to simmer. Add heavy cream and stir. Remove from direct heat and place grits in a bain-marie (a double-boiler). Allow grits to thicken, about 20 minutes. Serve.

For the sauce:
2 lbs. brown sugar
2 cups molasses
1 pint cider vinegar
garlic (measure 1/2 cup of whole cloves,
   then chop)
1/4 cup cracked black pepper
1/4 cup Worcestershire sauce
1 Tbs. cayenne
2 tsp. vanilla
2 cups mustard, yellow-hotdog style
1 gallon ketchup

Add sugar, molasses, and cider vinegar to stockpot over medium heat. Stir until the sugar melts. Add the remaining ingredients and simmer while stirring, until the sauce comes together.