Wednesday, July 20, 2011

The Occasional Deep-fried Day

Y'know, some days you just want something fried.  Or everything fried, whichever floats your boat.  I try not to have too many days like that, but hey, everything in moderation.

We had some shrimp in the freezer, so I decided to beer batter it and fry it up.  And if you're going to fry shrimp you might as well fry some onions right?  So glad you agree.

And because this is the South, cheese grits are mandatory.  Specifically, smoked cheddar cheese grits.

I like to prep the veggies first.  It makes things go smoother down the road.

I used half of the onion for rings, and the other half got a rough dice for sautéing later.

Next up is a bell pepper.
I used an orange pepper, but you could easily use yellow, red, or green.

I cut it into thick strips for a nice bite.

For the batter...
You need a cup of all-purpose flour

Add in 3/4 tsp of baking powder

Next is 1/2 tsp salt

And a good crack of black pepper

Crack and egg into the bowl and pour in 3/4 c beer
I used Fat Tire.  I suggest drinking the leftovers.

Whisk it together until smooth and toss in some of the onion rings

Heat about 1/2" of oil in a pan or use a deep fryer if you have one.

Shake the excess batter off the onion rings and carefully put them in the oil.  Grease burns ain't no joke.

You definitely want to batter and fry the onions first because once the shrimp are in there there's no going back.  Shrimpy onion rings would be kinda weird...unless that's what you're going for.

Flip the rings over to get brown on both sides and drain on paper towels when they're nice and golden.  You definitely want to keep an eye on these.  Sprinkle a bit of salt on them while they're still hot so it'll stick.

About halfway through the onions, start melting a little knob of butter in a pan over medium heat

Add in the diced onions and bell pepper sticks after the butter has melted

Fry the shrimp in the same manner as the onion rings.  Shake off any excess batter and add the shrimp to the pan with great care.  You only need to do a few at a time so the oil doesn't cool too much.  That'll make your shrimpies greasy.  Ew.

Woo!  Drain them on paper towels like the onion rings.

While shrimp are frying, boil some water for the grits.  When the water reaches a rolling boil, add in the grits according to the package instructions.  Most will tell you the proper water-to-grits ratio.  Turn down the heat so the grits are just simmering and add in salt.  I wouldn't be too heavy handed with the salt since we're adding cheese in later, but it does need some salt now.  It's next to impossible to get the salt level right after the grits are done.

When the grits are just about done, add in your cheese.  I just shaved slices of smoked cheddar in there and stirred it around to melt it.  I used 3-4 oz of cheese.  I usually eyeball it and taste it until I think it's cheesy enough.  Don't be afraid to taste things and adjust to your liking.  Add in a bit of butter at the end for good measure.

When your peppers are almost done, splash a little white wine in the pan.

When it's all done, put it together like so:
Spoon some grits onto the plate and top with the bell pepper/onion mix.  A sprinkle of green onions adds a little pop of color.  Onion rings on the side complete it.

I wouldn't call this shrimp and grits, a dish best served in the Lowcountry.  There's no tasso ham involved.  It's more like shrimp with grits...and onion rings.  No matter, it's all yummy.  Definitely eat it while it's hot though.  Or scarf it down like I did.

Here's the easy to follow version:

Shrimp with Grits (serves 2)
Batter adapted from

1 c all-purpose flour
3/4 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt, plus more for sprinkling
1/4 tsp black pepper
1 egg
3/4 c medium-bodied beer
1 onion, half sliced in rings and half large dice
1/2 lb shrimp, peeled and deveined, tails on
1 bell pepper, cut into thick matchsticks
2 tbs butter, divided
Splash of white wine
Smoked cheddar cheese

  • Whisk flour, baking powder, salt, pepper, egg, and beer in a large bowl.
  • Heat 1/2" oil to 375º
  • Add onion rings to batter and let soak a few minutes.  Shake excess batter off rings and add to hot oil a few at a time.  Don't overcrowd the pan.  Cook until golden brown and drain on paper towels.  Sprinkle with salt.  Onion rings may be kept warm in a 200º oven.
  • Heat 1 tbs butter in a small pan and add bell pepper and onions. Sauté until browned and add splash of white wine.
  • Cook grits according to package directions.  Add cheese and remaining tablespoon of butter at the end.
  • Add shrimp to remaining batter and cook in same manner as onions.
  • Serve bell pepper and onions over grits and top with shrimp.  Onion rings are served on the side.

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