Culinary Tradition Meet Creative Carolina-Carrboro Chefs
by Lynne Brandon
Chapel Hill, NC - Local residents and visitors from across the U.S. came out en masse for the first ever Shrimp and Grits Throwdown hosted at the historic Carolina Inn.
The friendly crowd had forks ready when “Eye of the Tiger” started playing and the seven Chapel Hill and Carrboro chefs vying for the title rolled up sleeves and started cooking. Shrimp sizzled, wine was poured and all had a great time tasting a myriad of recipes of the well loved southern dish. Every chef had to use two ingredients: shrimp and grits. After that all bets were off. Tabasco sauce, flash fried leeks, cashews, prosciutto bacon, corn, and other inventive ingredients permeated the air and whet appetites for the eager crowd. Northerners and Southerners compared notes and savored the moment.
After much sampling, local food writers and critics went with the creative style of Top of the Hill executive chef Trey Cleveland who showed his culinary chops from New Orleans and the Carolinas. Carolina Inn’s Crossroads Restaurant executive chef Jimmy Reale was a close second. Fans went with “heat” and chose the spicy Shrimp and Grits recipe from Vimala Rajendran of Vimala's Curry Blossom Café as the "Fan Favorite."
The first ever event was a culinary success that benefited a non-profit relief organization, and gave food aficionado’s the chance to experience a new twist on an old favorite.
Continue to read the winning recipe:
Top of the Hill Wild Mushroom Grit Cake with Shrimp
2 Grit Cakes
1 T. Olive Oil
1 c. Wild Mushrooms ~ Sliced
2 tsp. Garlic ~ Minced
2 T. White Wine
½ c. Heavy Cream
To Taste Kosher Salt and Pepper
Tomatoes ~ Diced
Scallions ~ Sliced
Cashews ~ Toasted
1. Grit cakes can be breaded and pan fried, grilled on a hot grill, or oven roasted.
2. Using a hot skillet, add oil, mushrooms, garlic shrimp and seasoning. Sauté for 2 minutes.
3. Add wine to deglaze. Add cream and simmer until sauce has thickened.
4. Place cakes in bowl. Pour sauce to cover.
5. Garnish with tomatoes, scallions and cashews.
1 qt. Boiling Water
1 ½ c. Yellow Grits
2 T. Garlic ~ Minced
1 ½ T. Kosher Salt
2 tsp. Black Pepper
1 C. Parmesan Cheese
1. Bring water to boil. Drizzle in grits while whisking.
2. Add garlic, salt and pepper.
3. Let simmer approximately 20 minutes until grits are
] smooth and creamy.
4. Remove from heat and whisk in cheese.
5. Pour into a baking dish about ¾’ thick. Chill to harden.
6. Cut into desired shape. Dredge in flour, egg wash and bread crumbs for frying.
7. Brush with olive oil or butter to grill or roast in oven.