Christmas in March

Exhausted from a long hockey season and two weeks of non-stop grading, I just packed up the car and headed to the farm for spring break. It takes about eight bags and a suitcase: school work (which I never do), walking shoes, knitting projects (that's usually four bags), and a cooler bag with stuff from the freezer. I missed Christmas at the farm entirely this year and had gravy base frozen that never made it. When I opened the freezer, the shrimp were staring me in the face. Susi, Doug, and Jacob were alone on the farm for the weekend, so it was the perfect chance to make them shrimp and grits: a favorite of theirs, mine, Aunt Peggy's. . .

Susi and Doug are building on the farm, and it was the best week to visit as we watched the skeleton turn into a real house! I'm excited for them and was happy to work on shrimp and grits for Sunday lunch - especially after Doug smoked his ribs all Saturday!

Unfortunately, none of us took a picture of the shrimp and grits. So pics will have to wait till I make it again. But I promised Susi that I would write it all down before I forget what I did. . .

When I heard Dede and Mary were joining us for Sunday lunch, I doubled the grits and made all the shrimp and all the sausage.

This would have served 20!

We all ate plenty. . .

They took leftovers. . .

We had leftovers. . .

Grits:

4 T of butter

3 cups of chicken broth

3 cups of milk

2 cups of regular grits (NOT instant, EVER.)

2 tsp garlic salt

1 1/2 cups shredded cheese (I used a colby/cheddar blend)

~ Melt butter in chicken broth and milk until just about to boil. DO NOT let boil.

~ Add grits slowly and whisk continuously while adding.

~ Turn down heat to medium and occasionally whisk until grits begin to absorb liquid.

~ Cover for 20 minutes, but using wooden spoon stir every five minutes to keep from sticking to bottom.

~ Take off heat to add garlic salt and cheese.

~ Leaving them longer makes grits softer. I made them an hour ahead so they would be ultra creamy.

Shrimp (and sausage and bacon . . ) :

1 package frozen peeled and deveined shrimp*

1 package Conecuh smoked sausage **(Next time, I'm gonna make Doug smoke some sausage and use it.)

1 medium red onion, diced

1 can Rotel

3 T butter

3 T flour

1 1/2 tsp Tony Chachere's Creole Seasoning

1 1/2 cups chicken broth

1/2 cup whole milk

1 cup cubed cherry tomatoes

5 strips cooked bacon (Smoked by Doug, if you're lucky.)

4 green onions

~ Add shrimp to heavily salted water to thaw for ten minutes.

~ Devein all shrimp - FRONT AND BACK!*

~ Slice sausage on bias in 1/2 inch pieces

~ Brown sausage in stock pot, not pan.

~ Remove sausage when deeply browned.

~ Add red onion to sausage fond and saute on medium for five minutes.

~ Add can of Rotel with the juice so that the liquid deglazes the pan and fond.

~ Add butter and flour to form paste and cook for a minute.

~ Add creole seasoning, chicken broth, and milk.

~ Bring to boil, then on low simmer till mixture thickens. (Add milk or broth to whatever consistency you would like.)

~ After mixture is whatever consistency you would like, add sausage back to let warm through.

~ DO NOT ADD SHRIMP UNTIL GRITS ARE READY AND PEOPLE ARE WAITING WITH FORKS IN THEIR HAND.

~ In hot mixture, add shrimp and tomatoes and stir for two minutes till shrimp are JUST cooked through.

~ Sprinkle with crumbled bacon and green onions.

* - I cannot stress this enough to all the shrimp naysayers of the world. Even when a package says "deveined", there is an inner vein that HAS to be removed. It makes all the difference in making shrimp taste clean and fresh - NOT fishy. I know at least two men that say they have a shellfish allergy when they just don't like that fishy taste.

** - I discovered this sausage at an MBA tailgate. The dads were tailgating for a double header. As I complimented their efforts, they insisted I try this Conecuh stuff . . . Alabama made. I had to walk away from the tailgate it was so good. Mr Evans brought me four more pieces during seventh inning stretch. :)

Will post pictures when I make this again.

I love that Jacob tried this for the first time and wondered why he never had grits before even though I make them every Christmas. . . Well, not this past Christmas. I had to wait till March.

FAVORITE THINGS

Frankie's Olive Oil

Williams Sonoma Croissants

Joe's Stone Crab Claws

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