Much is made of the comforts of Southern food and its has been enjoying praise in many non-Southern cities. My love of Southern food wasn’t really in my mind in college in Virginia, except for Carolina BBQ.
It wasn’t until I lived in Washington, D.C., that I tasted shrimp and grits at a fancy restaurant that my eyes were opened to broader possibilities. I only knew grits as a wonderful breakfast food.
Shrimp and grits have their origins in the Lowcountry and the Gullah people are credited with combining them. Now, it’s not a bad idea for people who have leftover shrimp from dinner to make grits in the morning to combine them. For us, it’s the other way around: we make a batch of stone-ground grits from Georgia and are delighted at how well they keep in the fridge.
What to do with the leftover grits? Well, if you live on the Texas Gulf Coast or near it, you can go to the supermarket and get wild-caught Gulf shrimp. Last time, though, there were only a handful of shrimp left and they were unusually expensive. I looked in the freezer aisle and shook my head. Side by side, there were imported shrimp and Gulf of Mexico shrimp packed in nearby by Galveston. The local frozen shrimp were cheaper too, probably on account that they didn’t have to be shipped as freight across the Pacific Ocean.
I grabbed a pack of Andouille sausage prepared in Texas (shhh, don’t tell Louisiana). At home, I sliced the sausage into relatively think pieces and browned them in a cast-iron skillet. Once nicely browned, I transferred those to paper towel.
Now, for the shrimp, we had the unusual situation of being in possessing of frozen cooked shrimp. Usually, we buy fresh shrimp and my boyfriend shells and cleans them. This time, I boiled water, squeezed in the juice of one big Meyer lemon and pour the shrimp in when the water had reached a roiling boil. I also starting cooking up chopped bell pepper and garlic.
Next, it was time to make the roux. I have yet to master the roux. Frankly, I’m not that good at it and should just listen to a friend from New Orleans who makes it with flour and oil. This time, I once again tried butter and flour. You put those in a pan and stir for 10 minutes until it turns brown. My roux was more like beige. Anyhoo, I combined everything: drained cooked shrimp, browned sausage, peppers and garlic and the roux. The leftover grits were heated in the microwave.
These are the best if you are at a good Cajun restaurant. To the uninitiated, let me take a step back: boudin is a Cajun pork sausage that includes rice. It has a soft consistency.
We have a tradition, inherited from my boyfriend’s uncle, of stopping at Boudin King in Jennings, Louisiana, when we are driving back to Texas from Georgia. We have a cooler with us just for this purpose. Their fried chicken is outstanding as well. We keep a few links in the freezer.
We recently grilled some of the boudin and there was a link left over. Here is how I made the boudin balls. I sliced the link lengthwise and peeled off the casing. In a bowl, I smashed up the meat and rice with a fork, then added an egg and beat it all together. Now, I added shredded Parmesan and Italian style breadcrumbs until the consistency was tight enough to scoop into balls with a teaspoon and my hands. I then rolled the balls in breadcrumbs in a cereal bowl. Meanwhile, I had started heating olive oil in a sauté pan.
I browned them all around and while doing so added slices of red bell pepper and some leftover grilled asparagus. For the dipping sauce, I mixed a Greek yogurt Ranch dressing with Frank’s hot sauce. Voila, I liked my homemade boudin balls as much as great restaurant boudin balls. I love boudin balls more than I like boudin. They are the epitome of leftovers being better than the original meal. Just like shrimp and grits!
Always enjoy your leftovers!