Olives, Shrimp and More…

We had some fun with this one.

The holiday season can be incredibly stressful. At some point we’ve all had conversations with friends about all of the things they have to do during the first 2 weeks of December. It’s nuts. Really, it doesn’t need to be so.

Everyone wants to hit a grand slam with their Christmas gift. The wowest of wows! Well how about one year, we just buy someone something nice and move along. Some high end olive oil? Some gourmet mustard? How about Leopold’s Ice Cream shipped across the country? Why not?

Then of course, there are cooking classes.

Chef Darin Sehnert’s Kitchen Table is a wonderful facility in Savannah’s Victorian District. Darin is informative, thorough and entertaining. I can’t recommend his classes enough.

The dish they made while we shot the episode was pretty simple Shrimp with Red Eye Gravy with Grits. The grits were quick cook. I won’t bore you with the details on how to make those. Darin says he uses quick cook because he gets a lot of visitors from out of town. When you are trying to introduce someone who isn’t from the South to grits, he finds that quick cook grits are a nice introduction. Me personally? I’d use old school stone ground. But that’s me. You do whatever you will Eat and Like. Right?

Chef Darin’s Shrimp and Red Eye Gravy Recipe

4 strips of smoked bacon. Cut cross-wise in thin strips

1 cup finely diced green bell pepper

1 cup finely diced yellow onion

4-6 branches fresh thyme

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

2 tablespoons butter

1 cup sliced mushrooms

1 medium tomato, seeded and diced

3 cloves garlic, finely minced

1/2 cup cold black coffee

1 cup chicken broth

1 teaspoon hot pepper sauce

1/4 Maderia wine (Can also use sherry or brandy)

2 teaspoons cornstarch

1 lb uncooked shrimp. (16/20 or 21/25 count) peeled

Place bacon in large sautee pan and cook over medium-high heat until fat is rendered. While bacon is rendering, bruise the whole thyme sprigs by lightly pounding with the side of a chef’s knife. Remove bacon with a slotted spoon and place on a paper towel lined plate and set aside. Leave bacon grease in pan for cooking diced vegetables.

Add bruised thyme, bell pepper and onion to bacon grease. Sprinkle liberally with salt and season with freshly ground pepper. Stir to coat with bacon grease and spread vegetables evenly across the bottom of the pan. Cook until peppers and onions are nicely browned. Add the butter and allow it to melt. Add mushrooms, tomatoes, garlic and reserved cooked bacon. Add another sprinkling of salt and papper. Cook until mushrooms and tomatoes have cooked down and given off their juices.

Deglaze the pan with cold black coffee and stir to scrape up cooked on bits. Allow coffee to cook down until reduced by half. Add chicken broth and hot pepper sauce. While broth is coming to a simmer, begin pulling thyme sprigs from pan. Scrape the stems with the edge of a knife to remove the leaves that haven’t yet fallen off. When mixture comes to a simmer, combine Madeira wine with cornstarch and stir to blend. Add to simmering liquid and cook until thickened to a sauce-like consistency. Taste for seasoning and adjust with salt, pepper or hot sauce to adjust as necessary. Stir in peeled shrimp and cook until they just turn pink, about 2 minutes. Serve over grits.

To learn more about Chef Darin and his cooking school, click here.

Eat It and Like It launched in Savannah, Georgia with television personality Jesse Blanco as the host. His passion for food and travel has made Eat It and Like It a two-time EMMY nominated program about contemporary and traditional Southern food.