Saturday, April 29, 2017

Week 14 - Southern

Unlike some of the other recent challenge themes, one that I was really looking forward to was Southern. We love Southern cooking, in part because it always brings back good memories of our road trip to Savannah. We had brought back some grits from South Carolina from that road trip that we wanted to use for this, so A suggested that maybe we should make some salmon over grits. That sounded good to me, especially after I decided to tack on some collard greens to the combo. This was one of the easiest meals to plan out and we didn't even really have to look at any recipes to know what we wanted to do. Since we both had a pretty good idea of what we wanted to do, we were also able to work on it together. Team dinner-making is fun.

The first part was the salmon which we bought frozen from Trader Joe's, thawed out, patted dry, cut into smaller slices, and then rubbed with olive oil and homemade seasoning based on Emeril's essence recipe that we still had leftover from the last time we made shrimp and grits. That stuff is so good, and it kept the flavor much better in this smaller quantity than the old Costco-sized container that we used to have.

We baked the salmon at 400 degrees for about 10 minutes, and it was perfect. We should make salmon like this more often. It's really easy and packs in a lot of flavor.

To go with the salmon, we made some collard greens. In the past, we've made collards mostly with bacon but this time we opted for meat-free ones. (I can't really call them vegetarian because they were made with chicken bouillon.) I threw in a lot of seasonings with the collard greens - salt, pepper, garlic powder, chili flakes, paprika, and freshly ground South African smoke seasoning from TJ's. There may have been more stuff that we threw in with those, but it's been a couple of weeks since we made this so I don't remember exactly. That list is, if not exactly what we used, pretty close.

After sautéing some onion and garlic in olive oil, we tore the collard greens into smaller pieces and added them to the pot along with all the seasonings, a few cups of water (enough to barely cover the collards), and a spoonful or two of chicken bouillon.

Once it was all mixed together and boiling, we simmered them for about 45 minutes until they were nice and soft. They came out really well, both in texture and flavor. While we like collards with meat, they were totally fine without them, nice and peppery.

For the final portion of dinner, we made some grits. The main ingredients for this were grits from Palmetto Farms (such good stuff), milk, water, butter, sharp cheddar cheese, and salt. There was also supposed to be black pepper, but A forgot to add it at the end, and we decided to forgo it since the essence seasoning on the salmon would have more than enough flavor for both of them.

A pretty much followed the Alton Brown recipe for cheese grits, which cooks the grits in milk, water, and salt until they are creamy, and then adds the butter followed by shredded cheese. The end result is really rich and creamy and cheesy and delicious.

We were really pleased with how this meal turned out. Everything had so much flavor, and it was actually pretty easy to make, especially with the two of us in the kitchen working on different things. We had plenty of collards and grits left over which made for a nice lunch for me the next day. We would definitely make this again.

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