Monday, December 28, 2015

Guest Post : Good Grits Charlie Brown

In spite of calls to "Quit it with the food posts" TOD has offered this space for a holiday, hell, a Christmas, food post. A few members of TOD met up with this poster at Eddie Izzard's Force Majueure Tour stop in Athens as the Charleston show sold out before they could score tickets. Dining at one of the finer Athens' restaurants an order of shrimp and grits was secured. The general consensus was "Friends Don't Let Friends Make Bad Grits." So here we are.

While the guest author generally writes and speaks like the author of  Thug Kitchen we requested the language be a little less R-Rated. Nonetheless some of the juicy bits have been redacted and some wording exchanged for the original, spicier expressions. While humor was compromised content remains undiluted.

Without further ado...

Lobster Broth Grits With Brown Butter Lobster Medallions

I am Calinky. South Calinky to be precise but some of my favorite relatives lived and are buried up north in blue sky Carolina. Being a Calinky I know pluff mud and I've been to the Chitlin' Strut. I know the Shag ain't what you think it is and I know Dukes is the only mayo. I know ramps and poke weed and I know anyone who eats 'em is antisocial or dirt poor. Or both. I've gigged my share of frogs, the hoppity kind, and my crawdaddies are fresh from the creek. I cook in my mother's mother's cast iron and grill on my daddy's PK.

And I know grits. We're not talking hominy we're talking grits. One thing I know is if you're gonna make good grits you gotta start with good grits. And good grits don't come out of a bag with an old man on the front looking like Hillary Clinton on a bad hair day. And "Instant" ain't got nothin' to do with grits.

Good grits come from Anson Mills though in a pinch Carolina Plantation ain't bad. What makes Anson Mills grits so good? They start with good corn--heirloom dent corn as grown by American Indians. Then they work real hard not to screw it up. The let it field ripen and cold mill it. And when you get it, the freezer is where you store it.

Nowadays way too many folks can't say "grits" without saying "shrimp 'n'" first but fact is this seems to come from Yankee Honey Pots (like Hilton Head) with the idea of keeping carpet baggers from dumping sugar on Plain Ole Grits. Can't fix stupid, ain't gonna try. If we're gonna put some kinda sea roach on grits we're going to the palmetto bug of sea roaches, the lobster.

I'm gonna tell you how to cook grits 'n' lobster. Pay attention.

You'll need good grits, lobster tails, some butter and some water. Maybe salt but probably not. Oh, and some kind of garnish. Most folks stick with chives or parsley but cilantro, if you can stand it, has more to add.

You need to start a couple things pretty much at once. Put half your grits in a pot and with minimal water, bring to a boil and then turn off the heat. They'll soak a while. At the same time start a quarter stick of butter in a cast iron frying pan and put it on low heat to melt and slightly brown.

While that's going on, cut the lobster tails into sections by slipping the edge of a chef's knife into the gap between top shell joints and cut all the way thru. You'll end up with five pieces and a tail fin. Use a grapefruit spoon to fish the meat out of the shell rings. If you're careful you can get leg meat. Pull out any intestine and drain on paper towels. If you're trying to economize you can cut the larger pieces in half. Put the shells and a half stick of butter into the smallest sauce pan that will hold them. Heat to melt the butter, cover the shells with water, bring to a boil then drop to a simmer. Simmer for five to ten minutes or until you get tired of watching.

Strain the lobster shell broth into the grits, add the remaining grits, bring to a boil and reduce to a low boil/high simmer. You probably have too much liquid and you'll want to slowly reduce. You need to pay attention and stir occasionally.

As the grits reduce you cook the lobster slices. The butter should be browned and you won't need to increase the heat. The lobster will take a couple minutes on each side. Shell sides will go red and the meat white. Flip, finish, drain.

By now the grits should be done, and by "done" we mean al dente. They're called grits for a reason.  At this point you're mostly looking for consistency. Swirl the spoon in the pot and if it holds a trail they're done. If you think they're too thick add water. You should check to see if salt is needed but the lobster broth is probably salt enough.

Plate up.

Grits into bowls. Lobster distributed evenly amongst bowls and your favorite garnish on top.

Et Voila!