Crappie-n-Grits Recipe

The word “grits” derives from the Old English word “grytt,” meaning coarse meal that originated in the Southern United States but now is available world-wide. Grits are made from boiled coarsely ground corn. Grits are usually served as a breakfast dish but are popular as a dinner entrée, crappie and grits, shrimp and grits. Hominy grits are a type of grits made from corn with the germ removed and treated with an alkali in a process called nixtamalization. Hominy is popular in recipes ranging from soups to casseroles.

Grits

3 tablespoons butter

1 cup grits

2 1/4 cups whole milk

2 cups water

Salt and pepper

Melt 1 tablespoon butter in medium saucepan over medium heat. Add grits and cook, stirring often for about 3 minutes. Add milk, water and 3/4 teaspoon salt. Increase heat to medium-high and bring to boil. Reduce heat to low, cover, simmer, whisking often until thick and creamy. Remove from heat, stir in remaining 2 tablespoons butter and add salt and pepper to taste. Cover and keep warm.

 

Crappie

1 1/2 pounds of 2-inch chunks of fillets

3 tablespoons butter

1 tablespoon tomato paste

2 1/4 cups water

3 slices bacon, cut into 1/2-inch pieces

1 garlic clove, minced

Salt and pepper

2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

1 tablespoon lemon juice

1/2 teaspoon hot sauce, plus extra for serving

4 scallions, sliced thin

Melt 1 tablespoon butter in 12-inch nonstick skillet over medium heat. Stir in tomato paste and cook for 30 seconds. Add water and bring to boil. Reduce heat to low, cover and simmer for 5 minutes. Save tomato stock. Wipe out skillet with paper towels, place bacon in the skillet and cook over medium-low heat until crisp. Increase heat to medium-high and stir in crappie chunks, garlic, 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. Cook until crappie nearly cooked through, about 2 minutes. Transfer fish mixture to bowl. Melt 1 tablespoon butter in now-empty skillet over medium-high heat. Whisk in flour and cook for 1 minute. Slowly whisk tomato stock until incorporated. Bring to boil, reduce heat to medium-low and simmer until thickened slightly. Stir in crappie mixture, cover and cook until fish are cooked through. Take off heat, stir in lemon juice, hot sauce and remaining 1 tablespoon butter. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve over grits, sprinkled with scallions and add extra shot of hot sauce to taste.

 

 

Pepped-Up Shredded Hash Browns

 

About potatoes: there are nearly 4,000 varieties of potatoes. Potatoes have been bred into many varieties and each has its own particular agricultural and/or culinary attributes. Varieties are categorized into a few main groups; russets, reds, whites, yellows (also called Yukons) and purples. These are based on common characteristics.

For culinary purposes, varieties are often differentiated by their waxiness. Floury or mealy (baking) potatoes have more starch than waxy (boiling) potatoes. The distinction may also arise from variation in the comparative ratio of two potato starch compounds.

I’ve grown a number of verities in my garden over a couple of decades and I prefer Yukon Gold, which is the potato called for in this month’s recipe.

 

4 teaspoons salt

2 1/2 pounds Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and shredded

1/4 teaspoon black pepper

2 dashes of cayenne pepper, to taste

1/4 cup canola oil

Use shredding disk in your food processor or you can use the large holes of a box grater prep shred potatoes. Spray vegetable oil in 8-inch round cake pan. In large bowl add salt and whisk 2 cups water until salt dissolves. Place potatoes in salt water to coat. Drain in colander and place 2 1/2 cups of potatoes in center of clean dish towel. Gather towel ends and twist tightly to wring out excess moisture. Transfer dried potatoes to large bowl. Mix black and cayenne peppers and coat potatoes. Microwave potatoes until very hot and slightly softened, about 5 minutes. Place remaining potatoes in towel and wring out excess moisture. Add to microwaved potatoes and toss with two forks until mostly combined (potatoes may not combine completely, that’s OK). Continue to microwave, stir at 3 minutes and continue microwaving until potatoes are hot and form a cohesive potato cake when pressed with spatula, about 6 minutes. Transfer potatoes into a cake pan and let cool about 5 minutes (until no longer steaming). Lightly oil your hands and press contents firmly into the cake pan making a smooth disk. Refrigerate about 25 minutes or until cool. If you refrigerate longer than 30 minutes or overnight, wrap the pan in plastic after the potatoes have cooled. To cook: heat 2 tablespoons oil in 10-inch skillet over medium heat. When oil is hot, flip the potato cake onto a plate and slide into pan. Swirl pan occasionally while cooking to evenly distribute the oil, preventing sticking. Bottom of potatoes should become brown and crispy in about 6 to 8 minutes. If not browning after 3 minutes, turn heat up a little. If browning too quickly, reduce heat. Slide potatoes on to large plate, then invert onto a second plate after heating the remaining 2 tablespoons oil. Slide brown side of potato cake up into skillet. Cook as before, occasionally swirling pan distributing the oil. The bottom of cake should be brown and crispy in 5 to 6 minutes. Slide hash browns onto a plate and invert onto serving plate. Cut to serve in wedges.

 

TIP: The quick-pickle. Whisk a little salt and sugar into some white vinegar. Pour over thinly sliced raw vegetables. Wait 20 minutes to eat.