Spicy Shrimp and Grits

By Iron Chef Leftovers

I really do enjoy shrimp, but since I am picky about where it is sourced and how it is processed, it tends to be spendy so I don’t eat it that often. For a recent party, I was tasked with making the small bites, so I decided to go with my take on a classic, shrimp and grits. I wanted something that was really easy to make and would still be fun an interesting, so I came up with this. It works nicely on a rice cracker and can be served as a sit down app or main course.

 

The Software

1 lb. 21-25 count shrimp, preferably sustainably wild caught, peeled and patted dry.

½ head cauliflower (about 1 lb.) trimmed into 1 inch pieces

2 tablespoons of olive oil

1 tablespoon butter

2 oz. grated cheddar cheese

1 oz. grated parmiggano reggiano

2 teaspoons cornstarch

Garlic powder

Kosher Salt

Chili flakes

1 smoked jalapeño (can be replaced with adobe)

Smoked paprika

Cumin

Oregano

 

The Recipe

The Spice Rub – make a spice mix. In a coffee grinder add 1 part each chili flakes, smoked paprika, cumin and  oregano, the smoked jalapeño (or one part adobe) and 2 parts each garlic powder and kosher salt. Pulse until a fine powder. (You can skip the grinding part if you are not using a whole smoked pepper as everything will already be powdered).

The Grits – steam the cauliflower in a covered pot for 10-15 minutes until tender. Transfer to a blender and add ¼ cup of the steaming liquid and 1 teaspoon of kosher salt. Blend until smooth. If the puree is too thick, add a little bit more water to thin. Transfer the puree back to an empty pot and add butter and cheese, stirring until combined. Check seasonings and add salt and pepper as necessary.

The Shrimp – heat a medium sauté pan over medium-high heat. Add 1 tablespoon of olive oil until just smoking. You are going to work in 2 batches with the shrimp. In a bowl, toss half the shrimp with 1 teaspoon of corn starch and 1 tablespoon of the spice rub until coated. Before putting the shrimp in the pan, shake off any excess. Cook the shrimp in the pan 2 minutes each side (don’t move them around) until done. Move to a plate, wipe out the pan and repeat with the second batch of shrimp

Serve the shrimp over the cauliflower grits.

 

Notes

I didn’t give exact measurements for the spice rub since it is scalable – you can use either a teaspoon or a tablespoon as your base measure, so the 1 part would be 1 teaspoon or tablespoon and the 2 parts would be 2 of either. You can easily adjust or change the ratios to go with your likes. You can use any size shrimp you want (I don’t think that I would recommend anything smaller than 26-30 count), but you will need to adjust the cooking time according to the size. You will still need to work in batches regardless of the size of the shrimp – you don’t want to crowd the pan when you cook the shrimp. I would also recommend that you don’t by any shrimp treated with Trisodium Phosphate (if you buy them in a bag, it should say. If you buy them from a fish counter, ask and don’t buy them if they are not sure – they should know), it affects the texture and you will end up with mushy shrimp.

Grilled Cheese and Tomato Soup – Iron Chef Leftovers Style

By Iron Chef Leftovers

A happy grilled cheese with some gazpacho on the side. The green in the middle of the gazpacho is some minced green zebra tomatoes.
A happy grilled cheese with some gazpacho on the side. The green in the middle of the gazpacho is some minced green zebra tomatoes.

With an overabundance of tomatoes right now, I have to get creative in what I do with them; frankly, I am a little tired of eating tomatoes right now, no matter how good they are. Being in summer, I don’t know that I really want a hot meal all of the time and during one recent stretch of hot weather, I decided it was gazpacho time, and what pairs better than a grilled cheese sandwich with tomato soup. I figured that since I had some great tomatoes, I would take the sandwich up a few notches too. You can get the gazpacho recipe that I used here.

 

The Software

4 slices of brioche sandwich loaf, ¼ to ½ inch thick.

3 oz. of cheese of your choice

2 slices of prosciutto

 

The Recipe

In a 275 degree oven, put the brioche on a baking sheet and bake until just slightly dry (the consistency of barely toasted bread), about 15 minutes.  Remove from the oven. Prepare the bread by putting ¼ of the cheese on each slice of bread. In a griddle pan large enough to hold the 4 slices of bread, cook the prosciutto until crispy on both sides over medium heat, about 2-3 minutes a side. Raise the heat to medium high and add the butter to the pan. When the butter stops foaming and beings to brown slightly, add the bread with the cheese side facing you and reduce heat to medium. When the cheese begins to melt, add the prosciutto and make a 2 sandwiches, pressing the bread together. Reduce heat to medium low and put a heavy, flat pot lid on the sandwiches. Cook for about 2 minutes on each side, checking to make sure the bread is not burning, or until the cheese is completely melted. Remove from heat, cut and server immediately with the gazpacho.

 

Notes

I really like doing this with brioche as it adds a really deep flavor to the grilled cheese. I would recommend buying cheese in a block and shredding it yourself, shredding the cheese, rather than using slices, causes the cheese to melt faster. I used a combination of Manchego, Aged Cheddar, Emmenteller and Beecher’s Flagship, but you can use whatever cheese you would like.

Quick Chicken Parm

By Iron Chef Leftovers

Chicken Parm is one of my favorite things – how could it not be, breaded chicken, sauce and cheese. Recently, I had a family member have a health scare and it got me thinking, is there a healthier way to make chicken parm and still have it taste great. This is particularly useful if you don’t have any sauce on hand (and you would never buy sauce from a jar, right?) This is what I came up with.

The Software
3 chicken cutlets, 3 oz. each, about 1/8 to 1/4 inch thick, patted dry
2 tablespoons, herb infused olive oil (see note below)
2 oz. mozzarella cheese, either sliced very thin or shredded
1 oz Parmigiano reggiano grated
1 tomato, sliced into 1/8 inch rounds (enough to cover the surface of your chicken)

The Recipe
In a large skillet, heat 2 tablespoons of oil on medium-high heat until just starting to smoke. Add chicken and cook on the first side for 2 minutes and the second for 1-2 minutes until done. Remove excess oil with a paper towel. Heat your broiler. On a baking sheet covered with a sheet of foil, place the chicken, top with tomatoes and then top with cheese. Place under the broiler until the cheese is melted and bubbling, about 2 minutes. Serve to happy guests.

Notes
Start to finish, you can have this on the table in 10 minutes. Notice I did not use salt – there is plenty in the cheese that you won’t need it. Check on your chicken constantly when under the broiler – it can go from bubbly to burn in a hurry. There is no need to preheat the broiler – you are just melting the cheese, not cooking the chicken. If using an electric oven, keep the door slightly ajar, the broiler will cycle off and on if you don’t and it will take a lot longer to melt the cheese. The recipe can be easily scaled and obviously you can add more tomato or cheese if you want. The key to this being a quick recipe is pounding the cutlets thin. If you don’t want to do it, buy your chicken at a butcher shop or megamart with a butcher counter and ask them to do it for you. They should have no problem with doing that.

Notes on Infused oil
To make the herb oil, you can either buy it or make it yourself. I like to throw a sprig of sage, rosemary, tarragon and thyme into about 1 cup of oil with 2 garlic cloves. Heat over medium heat for 15 minutes. Store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 1 month. If you are feeling really lazy, just toss the herbs and garlic in the oil you are cooking the chicken in and leave them in the pot, following the directions for cooking the chicken in the recipe.