Just finished an intriguing novel by Margaret Maron, The Buzzard Table, a mystery set in the South, with lots of tantalizing food references, little known facts about vultures/buzzards, and the equally tantalizing murder puzzle for our heroines to solve. Deborah Knott and Sigrid Harald (visiting her grandmother), are here together (usually each stars in her own mystery series). A mysterious ornithologist is also staying at Mrs. Lattimore's Victorian home, doing research on Southern vultures, when murder strikes.
At one point Deborah is putting together a meal of Shrimp and Grits, which sounded extremely good. And easy. So, we (in the Royal sense) started off with the idea of doing that well known recipe, slightly modified. A dish which apparently originated in the low country of South Carolina, and has been a best seller and signature selection at Crook's Corner, especially since an article written for the NY Times by chef Craig Claiborne, following his visit to the restaurant in 1985, and now a popular item in upscale restaurants around the country.
Just so you know, that happens to be an archaeological in-joke, referring to how often the vulture (commonly called a buzzard in the South) is depicted in ancient hieroglyphics, as mentioned in the book. So you see, it all fits together. Plus, with this delicious gravy of chicken broth, sour cream, bell pepper, chorizo, onion, smoked paprika, etc. I defy you to dislike it.
And as far as the grits go, being honest here, I'm still in the polenta court. More flavor and color. Just saying. Though they were excellent with this.
Creamy Chicken and Grits
Ingredients - for two
1 & 1/2 cups chicken, cooked, cut into chunks
2 tablespoons bacon fat or olive oil
1/4 cup pancetta, bacon or chorizo, minced
1 small onion, chopped
1 clove garlic or more to taste, minced
1/2 bell pepper, chopped
1 cup sour cream
1 cup chicken broth (or water if using a gravy packet)
1 tablespoon whole wheat flour (more if needed) or chicken gravy packet
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
salt and pepper to taste
green onions, chives or parsley for garnish
While your grits are cooking, chop the chicken, pancetta and veggies, get everything else out, ready to go.
Saute the onion, pancetta, garlic and bell pepper in the bacon fat or olive oil until the vegetables are cooked through. Add the flour and brown, blending well, then add the chicken broth and chicken gravy packet or flour, stirring til thickened. Blend in the sour cream, and seasonings. Taste. Finally add in your chicken pieces. I usually roast a whole chicken with lots of garlic and fresh rosemary, so there's some flavor in it beforehand. Let it all simmer for 10 minutes or so. Serve on top of your grits (or polenta) to which you've added, when they're about done, 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese and a tablespoon butter. A small salad goes well with this.
This was super tasty, and will be made again here. Soon. To be shared with Beth Fish for her Weekend Cooking meme.