Tuesday, December 6, 2011

True Grit(s)

My Thanksgiving dinner came off a shrimp boat. It probably wasn't this shrimp boat, but give me my romantic delusions, OK?

As the day faded into blues and pinks, the boats came back to the canal at Shem Creek in Mount Pleasant from their daily excursions into the Charleston Harbor. South Carolina has two shrimp seasons. The first runs from May through August, when smaller, brown shrimp are harvested. The white shrimp season begins in September and lasts through December.

Did the shrimp from these boats actually end up in the display case at Mount Pleasant Seafood, just two doors down from our motel?

Maybe not, but I would like to think that our Thanksgiving dinner was fresh off the boat.

It took Randy an hour to peel and devein the 2.5 pounds of shrimp we brought carefully packed in a Styrofoam cooler and transported to Brent's Columbia apartment an hour and a half away.

Our shrimp and cheesy grits Thanksgiving dinner was not our normal holiday fare. But even though we were miles away from home, there was a glimpse of extended family in the meal. I'd forgotten that Brent has some of the plates that were in my Grandma and Grandpa Neelly's kitchen cupboards.

But there they were - ready to hold a different kind of feast than was served up on my Grandma's table. But it was still a tie to family and memories miles away.

We didn't even miss the turkey. (I may have missed the dressing ... but just a little.)

Baked Shrimp Scampi
(2008, Barefoot Contessa's Back to the Basics)


2 lbs. shrimp in the shell (12-15 per pound)
3 tbsp. olive oil
2 tbsp. dry white wine
Salt and freshly ground pepper
3/4 cup butter, at room temperature
4 tsp. minced garlic
1/4 cup minced shallots (I used green onion)
3 tbsp. minced fresh parsley leaves
1 tsp. minced fresh rosemary leaves
1/4 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
1 tsp. grated lemon zest
2 tbsp. freshly-squeezed lemon juice
1 extra-large egg yolk
2/3 cup panko (Japanese dried bread flakes)
Lemon wedges for serving

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Peel and devein the shrimp, leaving the tails on. (Randy didn't do that part. He just took the tail off at the same time.) Place shrimp in mixing bowl and toss gently with olive oil, wine, 2 teaspoons salt and 1 teaspoon pepper. Allow to sit at room temperature while you make the butter and garlic mixture.

In a small bowl, mash the softened butter with the garlic, shallots, parsley, rosemary, red pepper flakes, lemon zest, lemon juice, egg yolk, panko, 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper until combined.

Starting from the outer edge of a 14-inch oval gratin dish, arrange the shrimp in a single layer, cut side down with the tails curling up and towards the center of the dish. ** Pour the remaining marinade over the shrimp. Spread the butter mixture evenly over the shrimp. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes until hot and bubbly. If you like the top browned, place under a broiler for 1 minute. Serve with lemon wedges.

** If you think that Brent has an oval gratin dish in his kitchen, think again. I don't even have that kind of a dish. So we just put the shrimp in a 9- by 13-pan and followed the recipe from there.

Cheesy Grits
1/2 lb. bacon, fried and crumbled
1 bunch spring onions, chopped
2-3 cloves garlic, chopped
8-10 mushrooms, sliced (We didn't use these)
1/2 cup grated white Cheddar cheese
Nutmeg (Brent didn't have any in his cabinet: Imagine that!)
Salt & pepper
8 oz. stoneground grits
16 oz. heavy cream
16 oz. water
4 oz. butter

Fry bacon. Remove and crumble. Pour off some of the bacon grease and saute onions and garlic in remaining drippings. Add sliced mushrooms (if desired). Add crumbled bacon and keep warm.

Cook grits. Bring water, cream and butter to a boil and swirl in the grits. Reduce to a simmer and stir intermittently to keep grits from sticking. Cook for 30 minutes. Add the bacon mixture. Add cheese and a touch of nutmeg, if desired. Add salt and pepper to taste. Serve warm.

I did this dish combining two different recipes, one for creamy grits from the Dixie Supply Cafe & Bakery in Charleston and the other from Mt. Pleasant Seafood.


  1. Kim

    What a fun trip and opportunity to tour the South!

    I have never had fresh from the water seafood authentically cooked. We did eat the Seafood Buffet at the Rio in Las Vegas. It is a HUGE spread of amazing seafood.

    I love barbeque. Smoke, bark and sweet sauce!

    Thanks for sharing your trip with us.


  2. Thanks for stopping by, Robyn!

  3. I have never had fresh from the water seafood authentically cooked. We did eat the Seafood Buffet at the Rio in Las Vegas. It is a HUGE spread of amazing seafood.

  4. I have never had fresh from the water seafood authentically cooked. We did eat the Seafood Buffet at the Rio in Las Vegas. It is a HUGE spread of amazing seafood.

  5. Living in the middle of Kansas, I certainly don't have many opportunities to taste seafood like we did along the coast (though my husband does catch catfish, etc. around here). The seafood buffet sounds good to me! Thanks for stopping by!