Every time you use fresh shrimp, save the shells in a plastic container or bag in the freezer until you have accumulated enough to make a batch of shrimp stock. Anne Freeze of Columbus shares the recipe she uses — and sends notes from the road. Photo by: foodnetwork.com
October 4, 2017 10:37:11 AM
When this column appears, I'll be back home in Columbus, but as I write it I'm on Day 8 of a 10-day road trip. To remain true to the spirit of my column, I'll relate the trip as food memories. We drove to Athens, Georgia, on Day 1. I grew up in Athens and love to visit as often as possible. We spent the night with old friends, Lili and Harvey, and enjoyed fresh delights from their farm. I took Gulf shrimp with me and made shrimp and grits for Harvey (one of his favorites). I base my version on a recipe from Bill Neal's "Southern Cooking." He was the founder of Crook's Corner restaurant in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, now owned by the beloved chef Bill Smith.
This style of the dish uses butter and lemon as the base for the sauce. No cream or tomatoes. I saute the shrimp in butter and remove them from the pan. Then I add lemon juice, Worcestershire sauce, hot sauce, scallions, garlic and chopped parsley, plus more butter if necessary. I surrounded the grits with sauteed cherry tomatoes from Lili's garden. A salad with her greens was all we needed to complete the meal.
On Tuesday, we had lunch at one of my favorite places in town, Taqueria del Sol, which serves little street tacos. Then it was on to Pendleton, South Carolina, next to Clemson, to spend two nights with Peggy. Peggy and I go way back, to junior high school and Y camp. We've had many adventures that still bring laughter and tears as we remember them. Peggy grilled steaks served with roasted potatoes, tomatoes and asparagus. We used the leftovers the next night in a fabulous salad, adding quartered hard-boiled eggs. Peggy made French toast bread pudding for breakfast. It was delightful.
From Pendleton, we drove to Charlotte, North Carolina, where I attended a conference from Wednesday night through Saturday night. Food was decent. You can't do much more than chicken to feed 3,000 people. We did have one night off and had dinner with Helen, another lifelong Athens friend. She took us to BrickTop's, a chain of nine restaurants in Atlanta, Charlotte, Nashville, St. Louis and Palm Beach. It was good, but the company was better.
We did find a great diner on our last morning in Charlotte before hitting the road again. An ample breakfast at the Midnight Diner was perfect to send us on to Greensboro, North Carolina, and Marsha. I've known Marsha since elementary school, but our friendship was sealed when her parents built a house a street over from ours. She could cut through the Hooten's yard, up a hill, through the bushes by our barn and be in our kitchen in two minutes. Even at night (no comment).
In Greensboro, which is still ahead of us as I write, we'll stroll through Art in the Arboretum, have dinner out and catch up on life. Marsha has just presided for the 10th year over "Men Can Cook," a fundraiser for the Greensboro Women's Resource Center, and I look forward to hearing the details.
From Greensboro, we have our longest leg, to Lookout Mountain, Tennessee, and Donna. Donna and I met in seventh grade, and I've brought along a note Randy Taylor gave Donna on the bus to give to me. Seems like yesterday. She says that she and Sam bought half a cow, so we'll have steak. Sam is a master griller and Terry always learns techniques when we visit.
This has been a wonderful break for me, and I have to thank Terry for hanging out each day while I attended meetings. Although I doubt if there are many men who enjoyed the few meals shared with 3,000 women more than Terry. His faint resemblance to Terry Bradshaw is enough that the ladies at our table from Iowa got a picture with him to put on Facebook, and when we left the diner this morning, someone shouted out, "Hey, Terry Bradshaw!" Oh well, it keeps him happy.
A sweet reader emailed me that her husband wanted to know how to make shrimp stock and also wanted my gumbo recipe. My shrimp stock (which I've only made twice) is based on the method below. And I usually make gumbo with shrimp and sausage (Conecuh sausage from Alabama). The first time I made it I lived in New York, and I doubt if I had ever even eaten it. I just wanted my friends to think I was really Southern. I used this recipe from the 1980 "Cooking Across the South," a collection of recipes from Southern Living.
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EMERIL LAGESSE'S SHRIMP STOCK
Prep time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 1 hour
Makes about 2 1/2 quarts
2 1/2 pounds shrimp shells (I used heads I had frozen)
2 1/2 quarts plus 1 cup cold water
1 cup coarsely chopped onion
1/2 cup chopped carrots
1/2 cup chopped celery
1 tablespoon garlic, roughly chopped
1/2 cup mushroom trimmings (I do not use)
Sachet consisting of the following: 1 bay leaf, 1/4 teaspoon dried thyme, 1/4 teaspoon crushed black peppercorns and 4 parsley stems
(Note: He doesn't mind salt, which I add. Ina Garten uses a little tomato paste in hers which I added as well, about 2 teaspoons.)
ALTON BROWN'S SHRIMP GUMBO
Makes 6 servings
4 ounces vegetable oil
4 ounces all-purpose flour
1 1/2 pounds raw, whole, head-on medium-sized (31-50 count) shrimp
1 quart shrimp stock
1 cup diced onion
1/2 cup diced celery
1/2 cup diced green peppers
2 tablespoons minced garlic
1/2 cup peeled, seeded and chopped tomato
1 tablespoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon fresh thyme, chopped
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
2 bay leaves
1/2 pound andouille sausage, cut into 1/4-inch pieces and browned
1 tablespoon file powder (I use okra)
(Note: I now use this instead of the old recipe from New York.)
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