A Little Trip Through Southeastern Indiana in search of grits
A few weeks ago Richard and I rambled around southeastern Indiana through Batesville, Oldenburg, Metamora, and Rushville.
Oldenburg, also known as the “Village of Spires,” was settled in 1817 and is one of the oldest communities in the state. It’s a charming little town with a strong German immigrant history. All the streets signs are written in English and German. The city-center is beautifully groomed. Residents keep their yards immaculate; a clear demonstration of community pride. There are some truly spectacular churches in this tiny town of fewer than 600 people.
Then we traveled on State Road 229 to another historic landmark, Metamora, settled in 1838. Metamora is home to the Whitewater Canal State Historic Site. The Duck Creek Aqueduct is believed to be the only wooden covered bridge aqueduct still in operation in the United States. Metamora hosts a working grist mill, where is I bought the grits for Mimi’s Shrimp and Cheesy Grits. It is a nice little part of rural Indiana. The drive along SR 229 was awesome. I wanted to share our little adventure with you. A very cool trip.
All of this has little to do with the recipe that follows. Sometimes you just have to know where your food comes from. Anyway, the Metamora miller told us he’d ground the grits earlier that morning. Wow! I was sold. They sell white and yellow cornmeal, and white corn grits, too. I prefer yellow, so that’s what I bought. Below is a short video about the Metamora Grist Mill from the Indiana State Museum in case you’re interested. What impressed me was all the machinery needed to mill dried corn. A complex series of belts that power the millstones, and a waterwheel to supply power. It’s not a speedy process which made me appreciate my little bag of yellow grits all the more.
Let’s talk about food!
I’ve blogged about my new found food love, grits. Growing up in Northern Indiana and around few southern cooks, the sound of them simply did not appeal to me. Once or twice while traveling south of the Mason-Dixon Line, I tried some at breakfast. Ugh – no thanks – pasty white looking with no flavor.
I broadened my pallet a year or so ago when I walked on the wildside and paired a recipe for cheesy grits with a leftover pot roast for dinner one night.
Grits are not polenta. Grits are not cornmeal mush. Grits are in a beloved class of their own. Creamy, buttery, cheesy, sweet or savory; whatever you wish. And grits are gluten-free! But it’s the butter, cream, and cheese that will kill you. Well, you only live once. Right?
Want the recipe that changed my grits aversion? Check this out: Chuck Roast with Peppers, Tomatoes and Cheese Grits. (Phenomenal!)
Once the grits are done, this recipe goes pretty quick. And I would recommend cooking the grits and keep them warm before cooking the shrimp. I used very simple ingredients to prepare the shrimp. Butter, 2-3 cloves of minced garlic, lemon, and fresh chopped parsley.
I lined a half baking sheet pan with paper toweling. Shelled and deveined one pound of raw shrimp (21-25 count). Rinsed the shrimp in a collander and placed them on a paper towel lined baking sheet. Top with another sheet of paper toweling and gently pat the shrimp dry. You want the shrimp at room temperature and as dry as possible so they saute quickly and become lightly browned in a hot skillet. If the shrimp is not patted dry, it will steam, and that’s not what you want for a perfect shrimpy bite.
Heat a 12″ skillet to medium-high heat. (I use a cast iron skillet.) Spray the shrimp with cooking spray and season with salt and pepper. If you like a little heat, you can sprinkle some crushed red dried pepper over the shrimp. Once in the skillet, cook shrimp 1-2 minutes per side. Just enough heat so they’re pink and beginning to slightly curl. Remove shrimp to a plate and loosley cover with foil. Lower the temperature to medium. I usually take my skillet completely off the heat and let it cool a bit before putting back on the burner, so the olive oil and butter don’t brown because the skillet is too hot.
Put the skillet on burner over medium heat. Add 2 Tablespoons olive oil and 1 Tablespoon butter. Add minced garlic and saute 30 seconds to a minute until you can smell the garlic. Add 1/2 cup dry white wine and juice of one lemon. Allow the sauce to simmer until slightly reduced. Add one more tablsepoon of butter and remove the skillet from the heat.
Ladle the grits into four individual serving bowls. Top with shrimp. Spoon sauce over the shrimp and sprinkle with lightly chopped fresh Italian parsley. Have some freshly grated Parmesan cheese ready, too, in case you like a little extra cheesy flavor. And maybe some hot sauce – tobasco? I know. Do Parm and tobasco go together? Why not??
Oh, my mouth is watering! Shall we cook up a batch?
I think so!
- For the Grits:
- ¾ cup grits You can substitute instant grits, but the texture will be different. Regular grits have a better tooth, I think. And regular grits don't take that much longer to prepare, based on my experience for this recipe.
- 1 Tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1 cup chicken broth
- 1 cup half-n-half or whole milk
- 1 cup water
- ¼ - ½ cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
- Salt and Pepper to taste
- For the Shrimp:
- 1 pound raw shrimp, 21-25 count, peeled and deveined, rinsed and patted dry
- 2 Tablespoons olive oil
- 1 Tablespoon unsalted butter
- 2-3 cloves garlic, minced
- ½ cup dry white wine
- ½-1 lemon, juiced
- 2 Tablespoons fresh Italian parsley, roughly chopped
- For the Grits:
- In a heavy saucepan, add chicken broth, half-n-half, and water. Bring liquid to a boil over medium-high heat. As the liquid begins to boil, slowly whisk in grits, 1 teaspoon salt, and ½ teaspoon black pepper. Reduce heat to medium-low. Cook and stir occasionally until grits are thickened. Remove grits from heat and add Parmesan cheese and 1 Tablespoon butter. Stir to incorporate. Put a lid on the pan to keep warm while preparing shrimp.
- For the Shrimp:
- Peel and devein shrimp. Using a colander, rinse under cool running water. Remove shrimp to a baking sheet lined with paper toweling. Cover with a second sheet of paper toweling. Pat dry.
- Set shrimp aside while preparing grits.
- In a 3-quart heavy saucepan, bring chicken stock, half-n-half, and water to a gentle boil. Stir in the grits. Or follow cooking directions for the grits if you use instant grits.
- Reduce heat to medium-low. Cook stirring occasionally until thickened.
- Remove from heat. Add Parmesan cheese and 1 Tablespoon unsalted butter.
- Check for seasoning adding salt and/or pepper to taste.
- Put a lid on the saucepan and keep grits warm off heat while preparing shrimp.
- Spray shrimp with cooking spray. Season with salt & pepper. May sprinkle with dried crushed red pepper for additional heat, if desired.
- Heat a 12" cast iron skillet over medium-high heat. Put 1 Tablespoon olive oil and 1 Tablespoon butter into the skillet. When the oil is hot, add shrimp in a single layer. Don't overcrowd the shrimp - you may have to cook shrimp in 2 batches.
- Cook shrimp 1-2 minutes per side until they're slightly pink and beginning to curl and lightly brown. Remove shrimp to a plate.
- In the skillet, add 1 Tablespoon butter. Add minced garlic and saute for approximately one minute until you can smell it.
- Add white wine and lemon juice. Simmer the sauce until slightly thickened.
- To Serve:
- Divide grits between 4 large individual bowls.
- Top with cooked shrimp. Spoon garlic/lemon sauce over shrimp. Sprinkle with roughly chopped fresh Italian parsley.