A Fork In The Road: Local Delicacies
After a day on the water under the hot sun, finding a meal that goes well with an icy, strawberry drink is in order. If you are like me, you saw more fish than you caught, which is why I always scope out the waterfront stalls for a quick seafood pickup on the way back to camp. You can pull together a gourmet meal with just a few quality ingredients, even with a sunbaked head and rubbery sea legs.
My hands-down, all-time favorite “just off the water” meal is shrimp and upscale cheesy grits. Top it off with fresh tomatoes and cool cucumber sticks, and for dessert, a grown-up version of a childhood favorite—strawberries rolled in confectioners’ sugar. Just light and filling enough to head back out to the water for an after-dinner twilight dip.
1. Start the fire in the grill. While the fire is warming up, take the shrimp off ice and place in a bowl with cold water. Set aside. Note: Often the shrimp will freeze a bit from the ice it is stored in, so the cold water both rinses it and thaws it, while still keeping it in the safe zone. Do not thaw in warm or hot water!
2. Mince shallot and garlic, but do not combine. Slice tomatoes and cucumber, set aside.
3. Clean and slice strawberries. Combine sugar and milk in a small cup, whisking with a fork until sugar dissolves. Reserve some if you have kids in the crowd. Add coconut rum and whisk thoroughly. Drizzle sugar mixture over strawberries, set aside.
4. In a medium pot, combine 3 cups of water, grits, salt, and pepper. Cook over medium heat until the grits begin to bubble (5-7 minutes), stirring to prevent sticking. Keep an eye on the grits, as they will quickly go from boiling to a glopping, mud pit sort of boil. Stir in half of the blue cheese. Remove from heat; keep hot.
5. When the fire, shrimp, and grits are ready, round up your crowd. This is a dish that is best hot and straight off the grill.
6. Place the skillet on the grill grate and add butter and oil. When the butter starts to foam, add the shallots. Cook for 2-3 minutes, until almost a crispy brown. Add garlic. While it is cooking, dump the water from your shrimp bowl and add the shrimp to the skillet. Watch closely, as it will cook fast. As soon as pink begins to show on the skillet side of the shrimp, usually 1-2 minutes, flip the shrimp and cook until the remainder turns a bright pink, no more than 2 minutes.
7. Serve straight from the pan, making sure to scrape up all the caramelized garlic and shallots to place on top of the cheesy grits. Serve with lemons, tomatoes, cucumbers, and the remainder of the blue cheese. Serves 4-6.
- 1 pound of large shrimp, heads off, shells on
- 2 cloves garlic
- 1 shallot
- 2-3 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 1/2 cups stone-ground grits
- 3 cups water
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon pepper
- 5 ounces blue cheese, crumbled
- Smallish tomatoes, thickly sliced (allow one tomato per person)
- 1 cucumber, thinly sliced into sticks
- 1-2 lemons, sliced into wedges for serving
- 1 pound fresh strawberries
- 1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar
- 1 tablespoon milk
- 1 tablespoon coconut rum