We celebrated Mardis Gras at the Inn last Saturday night. What a fun event this is. Guests arrive for our theme weekend with masks, beads & funky hats. My husband Lindy makes sure we have music to accompany the weekend from zydeco to Harry Connick Jr. We deck out Club Sugar Shack with all kinds of Mardis Gras regalia to create a fun & festive feeling for the party that will follow a great dinner.
This year, I decided to veer from my tried & true recipes from Gourmet , & try a few new ones. Our dinner menu this year was a fabulous Shrimp & Andouille sausage melange served atop a mound of creamy cheddar grits. To accompany it, braised collards with bacon, brown sugar, onions & Worcestershire , came together with a splash of red wine vinegar.
A basket of freshly fried
hushpuppies, with bits of red peppers , were placed on dining tables for guests to enjoy. Biting into the crispy crust & cheesy cornmeal interiors , one had to restrain from eating them all . Remember, sharing is a nice thing to do!
The one recipe I did prepare, that is always a favorite for this menu is sweet potato pie. A dollop of sweetened cream & a good cup of coffee & we were ready to head over to club Sugar shack to dance away the night.
Smoky Southern Collards
3 Tbs vegetable oil
4 strips of bacon, cut into 1 inch cubes
1 large onion, halved & thinly sliced
1 clove garlic, crushed
2 ~ 21/1 lbs of fresh collard greens, rinsed & chopped, center vein(stalk removed)
1 ham hock
1 tsp salt
2 beef bouillion cubes
3 Tbs light brown sugar
3 Tbs BBQ sauce
1 Tbs Worcestershire sauce
several dashes of hot pepper sauce
1 Tbs red wine vinegar or balsamic
Heat oil in a large heavy bottom soup pot.Add bacon & cook until lightly browned. Add onion & garlic & cook until softened about 5 minutes.
Add collards & just enough water to cover the greens. Add ham hock, salt & bring to boil, then reduce heat to a simmer.
Add bouillion to the pot & stir until dissolved.Then add brown sugar, barbecue sauce, Worcestershire sauce & hot pepper sauce. Stir, then simmer for 2 ~ 3 hours uncovered. Add additional water, 1/2 cup at a time, if necessary to keep greens stewing but not drowning.
About 15 minutes before serving, remove hock & add vinegar. You may pass more vinegar at the table if you wish. Makes 6 servings
Shrimp & Andouille Sausage with Cheddar Cheese Grits
2 slices bacon, cut into 1 inch pieces
1 cup finely chopped onion
1/2 cup green pepper, finely chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 cans (15 oz) diced tomatoes with their juices
1/2 cup chicken stock
salt & pepper
3/4 lb shrimp, peeled & deveined
2 andouille sausages, cut in half length wise, then cut in 1 inch thickness
2 Tbs chopped parsley & 2 Tbs scallion, thinly sliced
For shrimp: Heat a large skillet over medium heat. Add bacon & cook until crisp. Transfer to a plate lined with paper towels. Add onion & pepper to bacon drippings in skillet & cook until soft. Add garlic & cook 1 more minute. Add tomatoes & stock & bring to a boil. Lower heat & simmer 5 minutes. Add sausage & cook 5 more minutes. Add salt & pepper. Add shrimp , cover 7 cook until shrimp are cooked through, 4 ~ 5 minutes. Add hot sauce & parsley., & stir.
2 1/2 cups whole milk
1 1/2 cups chicken stock
3/4 tsp. salt
1 cup quick cooking grits
2 Tbs unsalted butter, in several pieces
2 cups grated cheddar cheese
freshly ground pepper
Heat milk & stock in a large nonstick saucepan over medium heat. Gradually add grits, stirring constantly, about 10 minutes, until mixture thickens. Add butter, stir, & add cheese, 1 cup at a time. Cook until grits are thick but not runny. If too thick, add milk a Tbs at a time. Add chopped scallions & black pepper.
Makes 6~8 servings.
Beer-Cheese Hush Puppies
1 cup yellow cornmeal
1/2 cup white flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder 1 Tsp sugar
1/2 tsp salt
2 oz. cheddar or Monterey jack cheese
1/3 cup minced yellow onion
1/3 cup red pepper
1 egg, slightly beaten
2/3 cup light lager
Vegetable oil for deep fat frying
In a medium bowl mix cornmeal, flour, baking powder, sugar & salt. Add cheese, onion, & red pepper, toss to combine. Make a well in center of flour mixture. In another bowl mix egg & beer. Add at once to flour mixture. Stir just until moistened.
In a large vessel, I use my wok, heat oil to 375. For each hush puppy, drop 1 rounded Tbsp. I use a small ice cream scoop. Fry 3 ~ 4 at a time until golden brown, turning once. Drain on paper towels. I hold them in a low oven while the remaining hush puppies fry up. Serve them up with some pepper jelly. In case you are wondering , 128 calories per. Oh my, you do the math!