The Seasoned Franciscan - Cooking Joyfully

Texas-Style Shrimp and Grits

By Vicki Lopez-Kaley with Texas Recipe Workbook and Adrian Miller on Monday, February 19th 2024


1/2 lb. bacon - 1/4-inch dice- optional.  If not using bacon, you will need 2 T olive oil
3 tbsp. unsalted butter
1 medium yellow onion - diced
1 large red bell pepper - finely diced
1 poblano - finely diced
2 large stalks of celery - finely diced
1 bunch green onions - finely chopped, dark green parts reserved for garnish
3 cloves garlic - minced
2 tsp. chili powder
1 tsp. paprika
1/2 tsp. black pepper
1/8 tsp. cayenne pepper - adjust depending how spicy you like it
2 1/2 cups chicken broth
Cheese Grits
1 1/2 cups chicken broth
1 1/2 cups whole milk
1/2 tsp. kosher salt
3/4 cup grits
1/2 cup cheddar cheese
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese
Remaining Ingredients
1 lb. jumbo shrimp - shelled, de-veined, and tails removed

1.    Preheat a dry pan over medium heat and cook the bacon until the fat is rendered and its crisp. Remove the bacon pieces to a paper-towel-lined plate and set aside.
2.    Pour off all but 2 tbsp. of the bacon grease. Turn up the heat to medium-high, add the butter. Once the butter stops foaming, add the onion. Cook until it becomes translucent and begins to brown. About 5 minutes. Add 1/4 cup chicken broth and reduce until almost dry, stirring and scraping up any stuck on bits with a wooden spatula.
3.    Add the remaining vegetables (excluding the dark green parts of the green onions). Cook, stirring occasionally, until very soft and browned. About 10 minutes. Add 1/4 cup chicken broth and reduce until almost dry, stirring and scraping up any stuck on bits with a wooden spatula.
4.    Add the garlic and seasonings and saute an additional minute, stirring constantly.
5.    Reduce heat to a simmer and add the remaining 2 cups chicken broth. Bring to a simmer, then cover and cook, stirring occasionally, for 45 minutes.
6.    Uncover and increase the heat to a boil. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the liquid has reduced by 2/3. Add the shrimp and reserved bacon and stir in, then cook until the shrimp just turn pink (they should curl to a "C" shape, not an "O" shape).
Cheese Grits
1.    Begin about halfway through cooking your trinity.
2.    Bring the broth, milk, and salt to a low boil. Thoroughly whisk in the grits, then lower the heat and bring to a simmer. Cover and simmer for 20-25 minutes, thoroughly whisking every 5 minutes. When whisking, work to make sure that any grits that have settled on the bottom are broken up and whisked back into the liquid.
3.    Stir in the cheese and keep warm until ready to serve.
4.    To serve, add a generous helping of grits to the bottom of a bowl, top with trinity and shrimp, then garnish with the reserved green onions.

Photo and recipe above are from the Texan and southern cook of Texas Recipe Workbook.  It may be close to LBJ's tastes!  Enjoy.

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Texas-style Shrimp and Grits might have been served for supper to President LBJ and Lady Bird Johnson by their personal chef Zephyr Wright.  As an African American woman from the south, she used her voice to share experiences of living under Jim Crow Laws and opinions about his Civil Rights Act with the President and he listened.  He used her first-hand accounts to help sway Washington elites and Congressional members to support the Civil Rights Act.  He knew that it was an inside/outside game. If he could use her story to change the hearts and minds of the academics and the wealthy people in Georgetown, that could help him get leverage and influence members of Congress.

Nearly 60 years after the Civil Rights Act, let’s ask ourselves, how do we use our voices to speak for racial justice?   What follows are some inspiring quotes from African American professor, poet, feminist and activist Audre Lorde, author of "Sister Outsider" and more information about Zephyr Wright.

Audre Lorde
“I am not free while any woman is unfree, even when her shackles are very different from my own.”  --
“Your silence will not protect you.”
“If I didn't define myself for myself, I would be crunched into other people's fantasies for me and eaten alive.”
“Tell them about how you're never really a whole person if you remain silent, because there's always that one little piece inside you that wants to be spoken out, and if you keep ignoring it, it gets madder and madder and hotter and hotter, and if you don't speak it out one day it will just up and punch you in the mouth from the inside.”
“We have been raised to fear the yes within ourselves, our deepest cravings.”
“I am not free while any woman is unfree, even when her shackles are very different from my own.”
“When I dare to be powerful, to use my strength in the service of my vision, then it becomes less and less important whether I am afraid.”
“I have come to believe over and over again that what is most important to me must be spoken, made verbal and shared, even at the risk of having it bruised or misunderstood.”

More on Zephyr Wright: 
An episode of HBO Max’s “Julia” features Wright.  Julia Child and her producers head to the White House in 1964 to film a dinner with LBJ and Japanese Prime Minister Eisaku Sato.  The show depicts the condescending treatment Ms. Wright received in the kitchen by an elite visiting chef. 

Zephyr Wright is also featured by food writer Adrian Miller in "The President’s Kitchen Cabinet: The Story of the African Americans Who Have Fed Our First Families, from the Washingtons to the Obamas".  Miller tells Southern Foodways Alliance that Zephyr traveled with Johnson and his family, until the indignities she faced due to segregation made her stop.  They had a unique rapport with one another.  LBJ would often ask her, “What do black people think about what I’m doing? Do they appreciate what I’m doing?” And she would give answers that would infuriate him. She’d say, “I guess,” or “I don’t know.” It seems she made her voice heard more by her example rather than by actively pressing him.  To quote her character in “Julia” she “used her voice.”

The first book by food writer Adrian Miller was Soul Food: The Surprising Story of an American Cuisine, One Plate at a Time.  It won the James Beard Foundation Award for Scholarship and Reference in 2014.  It was as he was doing research for Soul Food, he found newspaper articles about African Americans who cooked for our presidents.  Amanda and Merrill


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Sr. Sarah Hennessey Says:
02/22/2024 4:15pm
Love this recipe! Looks so fun. I love cheese grits the most, having grown up in NC. And am so glad that St. Rose has started serving cheese grits.

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