Southern Comfort

The salty and sweet flavors of this go-to family favorite meal will warm your soul.

If you are looking for some delicious comfort food to warm you on a cool February evening, then I have the perfect meal. To me, nothing says Southern comfort more than Shrimp and Grits, Collard Greens and Honey Cornbread Muffins. 

I was introduced to Shrimp and Grits when my son was a placekicker at Charleston Southern University. The coastal region of Georgia and South Carolina is known as the Lowcountry and is famed for its cuisine, which uses a lot of seafood, such as shrimp, oysters, clams, crabs, lobster and fish. And since grits are definitely a Southern favorite, it’s a natural to pair the ground corn dish with succulent shrimp for a simple entree that can easily become divine. Especially if you love cheese, because you can make those grits as cheesy as your heart desires! 

Over the years, this delicious comfort food dish has become a favorite for my entire family, and the perfect partners are healthy greens and these yummy muffins. 

Collard greens are loaded with vitamins and have no cholesterol. The flavor is earthy and lots of people like to spice them up with apple cider vinegar and hot sauce. Adding bacon gives another interesting layer of flavor. 

By adding whole kernel corn morsels to the muffins, you create another level of richness that enhances the chiles and cheese. We like to top these, fresh out of the oven, with blackberry jam. 

All of the pairings in these dishes combine sensations of salty and sweet, which can be very pleasing to the palate and are hallmarks of Southern cuisine. OS

Shrimp and Grits

1 pound large shrimp, peeled and deveined, use
     whole or chopped
4 cups of water
2 cups sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
1 cup stone ground grits (It’s key to use stone ground.)
1 cup scallions, thinly sliced
3 tablespoons butter
4 teaspoon lemon juice
2 tablespoons parsley, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
8 slices Applewood bacon, chopped
Himalayan salt, to taste
Black pepper, to taste

Bring the water to a boil and season it with salt and pepper. › Add the grits and cook until the water is absorbed, about 20 to 25 minutes. › Remove the pan from heat and stir in butter and cheese and let rest. › Fry the bacon in a large skillet until crisped. › Transfer the bacon to a paper towel lined plate to drain. › Add the shrimp to the bacon grease and cook until they turn pink. › Add the lemon juice, parsley, green onions and garlic and saute for about 3 minutes. › Spoon the grits into a serving bowl, top with shrimp, sprinkle with bacon and serve immediately.

Southern Collard Greens

1 32-ounce container chicken broth
1 pound package fresh collard greens, washed and trimmed
1/4 pound smoked ham, chopped
6 hickory-smoked bacon slices, finely chopped
1 medium-size sweet onion, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoon pepper

Cook the bacon in a 10-quart stockpot over medium heat 10 to 12 minutes or until almost crisp. › Add the onion and sauté 8 minutes. › Add the ham and garlic and sauté 1 minute. › Stir in the broth and remaining ingredients. › Cook for 2 hours or to desired degree of tenderness. › Adjust the tanginess by adding more cider vinegar. › Serve with hot sauce on the side.

Honey Cornbread Muffins

1 cup yellow cornmeal
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup whole milk
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup green chilis
1/2 cup whole kernel corn
1/3 cup shredded cheddar
1/4 cup honey
1/2 stick butter, melted
2 large eggs
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. › In a large bowl, mix the cornmeal, flour, baking powder, sugar and salt. › In another bowl, whisk together the milk, eggs, butter and honey (have these at room temperature for a fluffier muffin). › Add the wet mixture to the dry ingredients and stir until just mixed, then add chilis, corn and cheese. › Spray a 12-muffin tin with Pam and evenly divide the batter. › Bake for 15 minutes, until golden.

Posted in Living, Table

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