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Shrimp And Grits
A dinner of lowcountry shrimp and grits couldn’t be easier with Food For The Soul. Photo by Saidi Granados.
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

 

KAREN HOCHMAN is Editorial Director of THE NIBBLE.

 

 

July 2008

Product Reviews / Main Nibbles / Rubs, Marinades, Glazes & Simmer Sauces

Charleston Favorites: Tidewater Shrimp Sauce & Marinade With Stone Ground Grits

A Lowcountry Feast In Minutes

 

CAPSULE REPORT:  A portfolio of Charleston and lowcountry specialties aims to ensure that people everywhere can enjoy “Food For The Southern Soul.” The first two products we tried, Stone Ground Grits and Tidewater Shrimp Sauce And Marinade, made an excellent (and easy!) dinner that we can’t wait to have again...and again.


Charleston Favorites is another happy example of a businessperson from a “traditional” sector of industry who followed his love into the food business. Proprietor Jimmy Hagood began in insurance sales, and now owns a thriving catering business in Charleston, as well as a manufacturing company that sells Southern specialties throughout the United States. Delicacies such as benne wafers, peach butter, pepper jelly and, of course, barbecue sauces and rubs are just part of a line that sends a taste of the South anywhere.

Years ago, Hagood, a barbecue hobbyist, traded in his briefcase for an apron and began a pit barbecue catering company. In his new food career, he noticed small local specialty food companies that produced terrific products, but faced challenges of survival. He began to buy them up to provide economies of scale in production and distribution. Today, his company, Specialty Food South LLC, includes brands such as Charleston Favorites that specialize in the foods of Charleston and the South Carolina lowcountry. If our first taste is an example of the entire portfolio, we can’t wait to order the rest of the line.

A charming gift box arrived containing a two-pound bag of  Charleston Favorites Stone Ground Grits and an 18-ounce bottle of Tidewater Shrimp Sauce and Marinade. The grits take about 35 minutes to cook; we sautéed the shrimp in about three minutes. The results were one of the best meals we’ve had in a long time—perhaps because, as New Yorkers, we don’t get too much lowcountry cuisine. We added a large green salad, but the oohs and aahs were earned by the grits and shrimp.

Not only would we gladly cook this dinner on a regular basis; we’d send it as a gift to almost everyone, because it requires minimal cooking skills. If you can make hot cereal, you can make grits. If you can pour the contents of a bottle into a sauté pan, add peeled shrimp and stir, you can have delectable Tidewater shrimp.

 

Charleston Favorites
Cook the grits, sauté shrimp in the sauce, and a great dinner appears. Photo by Claire Freierman.

Tidewater Shrimp Sauce & Marinade

Tidewater Shrimp Sauce & Marinade is the line’s best seller, and we’re not surprised. Usually we are wary of bottled marinades—most of them are not much Shrimpbetter than what we could throw together in five minutes with ingredients we always have in the pantry, and we don’t like the taste of sugar that is prevalent in so many (we love sugar, but in its place, in sweet foods).

Tidewater Shrimp Sauce & Marinade does include some sugar, but you’ll never taste it among the wonderful lemon and pepper notes, celery seeds, fresh herbs, garlic and Worcestershire sauce. The combination of flavors is lively, snazzy, alluring and one of the best marinades we’ve ever tasted. Superb as a hot dish, the shrimp tasted so good straight from the refrigerator the next day, that we didn’t need to heat them up. We added them to a romaine salad, using the cold marinade as a dressing, and were still in heaven. Later that week, we served the leftovers on skewers as hors d’oeuvres.

One bottle covers four pounds of medium shrimp. The shrimp can be baked, grilled or sautéed—the method we chose as the quickest, since who can turn down the easy option that takes just three minutes? (And it tasted so spectacular, we’d be hard-pressed to try one of the other techniques.)

Stone Ground Grits

We enjoyed our peppery shrimp with smooth, creamy grits. Grits, or hominy grits, are the hard part of the corn kernel (the endosperm), cut into uniform small pieces (see photo below). While we personally enjoy them as a breakfast cereal, in the South they are typically cooked with milk or water as a side dish (including with eggs at breakfast, with ham, seafood, etc.), or formed into squares and fried like polenta (polenta is coarsely-ground corn, or cornmeal—the entire kernel, not just the endosperm).

Charleston Favorites offers coarse ground, speckled grits from Rockland Plantation in white and yellow varieties, as well as mixed white and yellow. Going back to antebellum times, white grits were preferred by people living in the port cities; yellow grits, which had higher yields, were preferred by farmers and “in country” folks. White corn has more earthy and floral flavors than yellow corn, which offered a touch of citrus along with more robust corn flavor. Yellow grits add more color to the plate. As with most foods, it’s a matter of personal preference (and for those who can’t decide, there’s the mixture). We were very happy with the white grits we tried, but will need to do a comparison of all three choices. And we’ll have to include our all-time favorite heritage grits from Anson Mills. Visit the Anson Mills website for an extensive history of grits.

The Rockland Plantation grits are slowly ground on a stone-burr mill, a technique that has been used for centuries. It creates a large particle size that imparts a much more delightful texture than the industrially-refined supermarket grits. If you like grits, but your only experience is with the commercial variety, you’re in for a taste sensation. Think of the difference between supermarket white bread and a fine artisan loaf.

The grits can be cooked in milk or water. We prefer water (we use filtered water), and add a tablespoon of butter at the end to finish the grits. We find that the milk, while creating a richer dish, masks some of the essential flavor of the grits. Try it both ways to see which you prefer.

Note that as delicious as these grits are when hot, they don’t reheat well (unlike the shrimp, which were just as glorious on day two and day seven). The reheated grits are certainly O.K., but they lack the magic they have the first time out. So make what you need fresh each time.

Grits
Charleston Favorites offers white stone ground grits from Rockland Plantation. Photo by Saidi Granados.

However much you make, you’re in for a treat. After making this one meal, we believe we have developed a Southern soul.

CHARLESTON FAVORITES

Stone Ground Grits, Tidewater Shrimp Sauce & Marinade

  • Stone-Ground Grits
    White Or Yellow
    2-Pound Cloth Bag
    $5.59
  • Tidewater Shrimp Sauce
    & Marinade

    18-Ounce Bottle
    $6.49

Purchase online* at FoodForTheSouthernSoul.com

Gift Box
Send a box to a friend. Photo by Claire Freierman.

*Prices and product availability are verified at publication but are subject to change. Shipping is additional. These items are offered by a third party and THE NIBBLE has no relationship with them. This link to purchase is provided as a reader convenience.

 

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