The Local Farmstand

My next best favorite place to shop after the neighborhood organic farmer's market is The Local Farmstand.
It is a quaint little corner store nestled in front of my favorite upscale food store, Star Provisions. I had already bought fresh Georgia shrimp earlier in the day, so when I spotted the stone ground grits, the southern dish of shrimp and grits came to mind.

The grits are locally milled by Riverview Farms and have such a colorful mix of coarse, stone-ground blue and white corn. Grits are a staple in the Southern food pyramid.
Of course, not being a Southern girl, I had to put my Mediterrean twist on the dish.

I laced the grits with a handful of Italian Polenta and cooked them in half water and milk, for a richer, denser texture. A few tablespoons of my seasonally inspired Vidalia Onion Pesto added easy and instant flavor to the dish without a chop or a dice!

As the grits were happily slow cooking on the stovetop, I had to think of some sort of sauce or marinade for the shrimp.
I had ancho chili peppers in the pantry, and I thought they would be a perfect condiment for a sweet and hot sauce for the dish.

A bit of roasted ancho cili and Preserved Oranges {scented with orange flower water} makes a smokey, slightly spicy and sweet, floral marinade for the shrimp.

I had so much fun making this dish, stretching my flavor ideas and my usual techniques of cooking. I hope you will enjoy it too!


For the Marinade and Sauce:
1 Ancho Chili
3 Slices Preserved Oranges plus 3 Tablespoons syrup
Zest and juice of one lime
1 clove garlic
2 Tablespoons Cilantro
1 Cup water
Salt & Pepper to taste
2 pounds fresh, shelled shrimp, talls on. Reserved the shrimp shells.

Remove the seed from the chili pepper. Sear over high heat on a grill pan, burner or saute pan for a few minutes on each side.
Break chili up into pieces and add to blender with the rest of the ingredients. Process until mixture has a texture of a thick, smooth paste. Toss half of the mixture with the shrimp. Refrigerate until ready to use. Set aside the remaining marinade.

To make the shrimp shell sauce {which will be added to the reserved marinade for a sauce}, heat a saute pan over high heat. Add a Tablespoon of oil and saute the shells until pink and well cooked. Add 1 cup of water, bay leaf, a few peppercorns and a few sprigs of celery or Italian parsley leaves. Bring water to a gentle boil, turn down heat to low and simmer for 30 minutes. Strain off liquid and add to remaining marinade. Reserve until ready to use.

To make the polenta grits:
1 cup polenta
1 cup grits
2 cups milk
2 cups water
2 Tablespoons butter
2 Tablespoons Vidalia Onion Pesto
1 cup cheese of your choice- I like freshly grated Parmesan or a toma from our local dairy, Sweet Grass Dairy

Heat water and milk with butter just until boiling. Add the polenta, grits and vidalia onion. Simmer over low heat, covered, for about an hour, or until creamy and thick. Stir occassionally to avoid sticking on bottom of pan. Add cheese and blend. Serve immediately.

For the Shrimp:

Heat a saute pan over medium high heat with 2 Tablespoons oil. Add the shrimp and saute just until both side are pink. Add the sauce and simmer just until sauce is warmed and shrimp are cooked.
Serve over steaming hot grits. Top with a few fresh cilantro leaves and a wedge of lime.

Oops! I forgot to take pictures of the rest.....too busy enjoying the meal, I guess!

Buon appetito!
copyright 2008 Alisa Barry

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