Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens has been, at the time of this post, on The New York Times best seller list for NINETY (90) weeks. The popularity of this book got a boost when Reese Witherspoon picked it for her September 2018 choice in her online book club community, but its popularity runs deeper than its celebrity pick.
Set in the marshes of coastal North Carolina, we are transported back in time between two story lines that revolve around Kya, known in town as the Marsh Girl. The first story of Kya’s life allows us to get to know who she is from a young age, what her home is like, and how a life on the marsh molds a person. The later timeline revolves around the mysterious death of one of the most popular young men in the small North Carolina town.
Throughout the novel, as we follow Kya, we constantly circle back to the role of food. Finding food, cooking food, striving to make a living in order to obtain food. Kya digs for mussels in the marsh she lives in, where she listens to the crawdads sing. When she’s in short supply of cash she eats simple, cheap, stewed greens. Skillet cornbread, like her mother made, slathered in butter was one of Kya’s favorite’s when she could find butter. One ever present dish on Kya’s table and on her stove top was grits. An affordable (ie. cheap) dish to make and ever present in Southern cuisine, Kya would eat plain grits, cold grits, grits with greens, grits with anything.
For this Reads & Feeds recipe, I’m sharing with you a shrimp and grits recipe that is more traditional in North Carolina. There’s no tomato based sauce like you might find in a Creole shrimp and grits recipe, but it is still packed with flavor.
Happy Cooking! Post your Shrimp & Grits with #readsandfeeds and let me know what you think of Where the Crawdads Sing!
Shrimp & Grits
For the shrimp:
4 slices bacon
1lb shrimp, peeled and deveined, with tails removed
2-4 tablespoons flour
1 1/2 cups baby portobello mushrooms, sliced
3 large garlic cloves, minced
Juice of 1 lemon
1/2 teaspoon Tabasco sauce, or to taste
1/4 cup green onions, sliced
In a skillet over medium-high heat, cook the bacon. Drain the bacon on paper towels. Chop bacon into bite size pieces when cool. Reserve the bacon fat in pan and add olive oil if needed to give you approximately 1 ½ tablespoons.
Toss the shrimp with the flour until they are lightly coated, removing any excess flour. Start with 2 tablespoons and add more, if necessary. Over medium-high heat cook the shrimp on one side, about 3 minutes, flip and cook 1 more minute. Add bacon and mushrooms to the shrimp, stir. Cook approximately 4 minutes. Add the garlic, stirring constantly so as not to brown the garlic. Remove from heat and add the lemon juice, Tabasco and green onions. Spoon over cheese grits.
For the cheese grits:
4 ½ cups water
1 cup stone ground grits
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup grated sharp cheddar cheese
¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese
3 tablespoons butter
½ teaspoon freshly ground pepper
½ teaspoon Tabasco
In a saucepan over high heat bring water to a boil. Whisk in the grits, reduce heat to low and cook, stirring occasionally, until the grits are thickened, approximately 30-35 minutes. Remove from the heat and add the cheeses, butter, salt, pepper and Tabasco, adding more to adjust seasoning as desired.
Helpful Hint: stirring cheese into your grits, make a figure 8 with your spoon. This will prevent the cheese from clumping up in the grits. This tip can also be used when making cheese sauces, macaroni and cheese, or any other dish that requires adding shredded cheese and stirring.
Recipe adapted from Southern Living.