The other day I was teaching Des all about ‘y’all’. It’s a common misconception that it’s spelled ‘ya’ll’. No. It’s a contraction between ‘you’ and ‘all’. Actually, more like ‘ya’ and ‘all’. So you chop off the rest of ‘ya’, leaving you contracting ‘y’ and ‘all’, THUS producing the end product, ‘y’all’. Then we went on to discuss ‘all y’all’, or sometimes ‘all uh y’all’, and how that’s used to describe a large group of people, like more than three.
Her: “Whaaaa? Do they teach you that in school??”
Me: (Smiles) “No, child. No, they don’t teach us that in school.”
It’s just an unspoken rule, and you just know it. Like cheesy grits and shrimp. You can just feel it in your bones.
And fried okra. There are so many things my husband hadn’t ever had, not growing up in the south. Fried okra was one of them, but we changed that many years ago. This is okra! And okra fried. It’s kinda like a bell pepper in the sense that it has seeds and hollow tubes throughout the middle. They don’t have much flavor, and once fried, I mean anything is good. Just try it! They’re a summer vegetable, so I’m starting to see them everywhere again. Be sure to dip whatever you don’t use on the grits in some ranch dressing.
Cheesy grits! They’re like cheesy mashed potatoes, without all the chopping and peeling and boiling. Grits are milled corn, or hominy for quick grits. Like porridge, or cream of wheat. But salty, creamy, and cheesy.
And bacon, because, well, bacon.
Cook up some cajun shrimp real quick (only takes 5 minutes), then top your cheesy grits with salty bacon, spicy, tender shrimp, crunchy fried okra, creamy goat cheese crumbles, and some yummy chives…
And you’ll be teaching your friends how to say ‘y’all’ in no time.
A little taste of the south for y'all!
- 1/2 lb whole okra chopped into 1/2" pieces
- 1 c flour
- 2 eggs
- 1/2 c buttermilk milk is fine
- 1 c cornmeal
- 1/2 c flour
- 1 t salt
- 1 c quick grits I used white
- 4 c water
- 1/4 t salt
- 1 c grated cheddar cheese
- 1/2 c grated parmesan cheese
- 2 T butter divided
- 1 lb large tail-off, uncooked shrimp
- 1 jalapeno pepper chopped
- 1/4 white onion diced
- 1 T chopped garlic
- 1/2 t paprika
- 1/2 t thyme
- 1/2 t oregano
- 1/4 t salt
- 1/4 t pepper
- 1/8 t cayenne
- splash white cooking wine or broth or water
- 4 slices bacon cooked crisp and crumbled
- 2 oz. goat cheese crumbles
- handful chives chopped
- Heat canola (or vegetable) oil in large pot over medium-high heat until it immediately sizzles when water is flicked in (about 10 minutes to heat).
- Prepare three separate bowls to dredge the okra: 1 c flour in one, whisk eggs and buttermilk in a second, and cornmeal, flour, and salt in third large bowl.
- Once oil is hot enough, fry okra by first dredging pieces in flour, then eggs/milk mixture, then coat in cornmeal mixture. Drop one by one in hot oil. Each piece should immediately begin to sizzle.
- If not, stop dropping pieces in and wait until oil has heated sufficiently. Continue to fry all of the pieces, about 2-3 batches, depending on how large your pot is. Once they are golden brown, remove from oil and let drain on paper towel-lined plate. Immediately salt a little more.
- While okra is frying, prepare cheesy grits. Heat water in pot on high until boiling, add grits and salt. Reduce heat and let simmer, covered, until water is absorbed. Turn heat off, let sit covered.
- Begin cajun shrimp by melting 1 T butter in frying pan over medium heat. Add onion, jalapeño, garlic, and spices. Cook until onions and jalapeño are softened. Add second T of butter, then add shrimp.
- Cook just 4-5 minutes, or until shrimp is opaque and pink. You don't want to overcook your shrimp! Add splash of white cooking wine (or broth or water) until you have a little bit of a sauce. Season more as desired.
- Stir cheese into grits. Spoon grits into serving bowl, top with shrimp, fried okra, crumbled bacon, goat cheese, and chives. Serve immediately.