Stella’s Easy Shrimp and Grits

My friends Mike and Laura recently gave me a delightfully foodie souvenir from their recent trip to Australia: a jar of Henry Langdon’s Sea Salt Rub, with coriander, chilli [sic], and kaffir lime. My mind immediately started racing, trying to land upon the perfect recipe.

While lounging out by the pool today, I told my neighbor Johnny that I was considering using it to make baked chicken and rice, but he suggested I use shrimp instead, which led to the epiphany: shrimp and grits (and chicken).

This recipe took me 30 minutes, dirtied exactly three bowls/pans, and was out-of-this-world delicious. Proof that four minds are better than one.

2 cups fresh or frozen shrimp
6 chicken tenders (or breasts cut lengthwise into three)
1 Tbsp olive oil
1/3 cup Henry Landgon’s Sea Salt Rub: Coriander, Chilli, and Kaffir Lime or, for those of you not in Australia, a mixture of same in roughly equal parts, including: sea salt flakes, red pepper flakes, dried coriander, garlic powder, black pepper, ground ginger, and ground kaffir lime leaves
~2 cups prepared grits (I suggest using my Horseradish Cheese Grits recipe, as I did here)

1. Preheat oven to 325°. Pour olive oil in a baking dish, then stir in shrimp and chicken until well-coated. Pour in salt rub mixture and stir until all pieces of meat are evenly coated in herbs and spices.

2. Cook for approximately 25 minutes. Meanwhile, prepare your grits and leave them thickening over low heat, keeping the cheese, butter, and horseradish to the side.

3. After 25 minutes, turn oven to broil. Fold butter, horseradish, and cheese into grits (as per recipe).

4. Spoon out grits onto the center of two large plates. Remove shrimp and chicken from oven and artfully arrange the pieces evenly over the grits. Sprinkle with leftover cheese and dust with a little more freshly ground black pepper. Serve immediately.

Serves 2.


Feta-Stuffed Chicken Breasts with Creamy Pesto Sauce

This is one of my personal favorites on the blog.  I am a big fan of all these flavors (and even though I hate tomatoes, I love them sun dried!).

A great recipe for a casual dinner party, these stuffed chicken breasts look a lot fancier than they really are; they’re not intimidating to cook at all, and the result is so flavorful and pretty, they’re definitely worth the little bit of extra effort.

And the sauce is to die for.  Buon appetito!

For the chicken
4 chicken breasts
1 cup feta
1/2 cup sun-dried tomatoes, finely diced
~1 tsp dried Italian herbs
1 tsp salt
1 tsp freshly ground black pepper

For the sauce
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 shallot, finely diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 Tbsp unsalted butter
1/2 cup chicken broth
1 cup milk
1 Tbsp flour
~2 Tbsp pesto
dash of salt and pepper to taste

1. Wash chicken breasts and carefully make a slit in the side of each one, lengthwise. Stuff with feta, herbs, and sun-dried tomatoes, then sprinkle each side with salt and pepper. Grill until well done.*

2. While chicken is grilling, heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the shallots and saute for a few minutes until it is translucent. Add butter and garlic and continue to cook, stirring frequently, for just a few minutes, until garlic begins to brown and becomes fragrant. Add chicken broth.

3. In a separate bowl, stir flour into milk until it is dissolved. Stir into skillet, along with a little salt and pepper. Simmer for five minutes, stirring constantly as sauce thickens. Add pesto and stir until well mixed.

4. By now your chicken should be done; plate the chicken, spoon sauce over it, and enjoy immediately. Serve with salad, vegetables, and brown rice, which tastes rich and delicious with a little of the creamy sauce.

Serves 4.

* I use a George Foreman Grill, which only takes ten minutes; alternatively, you could prepare the sauce and then bake the chicken in it; or pan-fry the chicken and use the grease as a base for the sauce in lieu of chicken broth.

Grilled Chicken and Mushroom Kale Salad

I threw this together using some leftovers from my Chicken and Mushroom Enmoladas, but you could vary the ingredients based on what you have at hand. This made a delicious salad.

1 cup grilled chicken
1 cup grilled portabello mushrooms
1 head fresh kale, washed and torn into bite-sized pieces
1/2 cup grated Pecorino Romano cheese
1/2 cup diced red onion
1/2 cup crushed pecans
honey mustard dressing, to taste

1. In a large bowl, mix all ingredients but dressing. Stir thoroughly with salad tongs or hands.

2. Serve in individual bowls, topped with desired amount of dressing.

Makes about four servings.

Chicken and Mushroom Enmoladas

Enchiladas baked in mole are properly called enmoladas, especially if you are in Oaxaca. I decided to use the term for these to mix things up around here!

I’m still a mole amateur, and I sort of make it up as I went along; this mix of flavors turned out great, though. I love the dark richness of the sauce and the tart richness of the feta. Mole also lends itself easily to creative presentation; the deep color looks striking with a spiral of sour cream and some slices of bright, fresh avocado (which I forgot to add for the photo!).

¡Buen provecho!

Follow my recipe for Stella’s Homemade Mole, and set aside.

For the enchiladas
2 tbsp olive oil
1 cup shredded chicken, cooked (can be poached, grilled, or baked)
1 cup chopped portobello mushrooms
1 cup finely diced onion
2 tsp cumin
1/4 cup chopped cilantro
1 cup crumbled fresh feta cheese
3 tbsp minced garlic
8 corn tortillas
extra olive oil or butter for pan greasing
2 cups mole sauce
1 avocado, sliced

1. Preheat an oven to 350°. In a large skillet, warm olive oil over medium heat. Sauté mushrooms for a few minutes until they begin to soften. Add the onions, cumin, and cilantro and sauté for a couple of minutes, until all are tender. Pour mushroom mix into a medium-sized bowl and stir in the feta and garlic, then set aside.

2. Warm the tortillas by covering them in paper towels or a clean kitchen towel and microwaving them on medium for about three minutes.

3. Grease a baking dish or deep pan with butter or olive oil. Have mole sauce in a shallow bowl or pan to the side, and chicken ready in a separate bowl – make a little assembly line. Carefully dip a tortilla in your mole sauce, then place in dish. Fill with about 1/8 of your mushroom mix and 1/8 of your chicken, then roll up, seam side down. Continue until all tortillas have been rolled and filled. They should fit snugly in your dish.

4. Pour the mole sauce over the top. Bake for about 10 minutes or until browning and bubbling. Sprinkle feta and avocado slices on top and serve immediately with rice and beans.

Makes 8 enchiladas. Other optional garnishes include sour cream, crema mexicana, more feta crumbles, salsa, and leftover peanut or sesame seeds.

Lemon and Rosemary Grilled Chicken

This is pretty basic, but it was delicious, too, so I thought I’d go ahead and post it.

2 chicken breasts, butterflied
juice of 2 lemons
1/2 cup olive oil
splash of white wine
2 Tbsp fresh rosemary
extra olive oil to drizzle

1. Squeeze lemon juice into a large, shallow pan or dish. Add olive oil, wine, and 1 1/2 Tbsp rosemary, reserving a couple of springs for garnish. Place chicken breasts in dish, rubbing oil and herb mixture into each one, turning over, and leaving mostly covered with oil. Let marinate, covered, for at least a half hour in the refrigerator, preferably up to two hours.

2. Meanwhile, heat and prepare your indoor or outdoor grill. Then, remove chicken breasts from the marinade, allowing most of the liquid to drip off, and place on the hot grill. If some rosemary sticks to the meat, that’s okay. Follow your grill’s time guide to ensure chicken is cooked through. For my indoor grill, the cooking time was about 6 minutes. If using an outdoor grill, turn the chicken over halfway through.

3. When chicken is well done, remove from heat and serve immediately garnished the the remaining rosemary and a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil.

I used a George Foreman Grill for these, and served them with grilled asparagus topped with oven-roasted almonds and finely grated Pecorino Romano cheese. Great with white wine.

Serves 2.