Our annual trip to Niagara Falls/Buffalo has gone very much according to script:

Eat, Visit, Eat, Explore, Eat, Cook, Eat.

This trip, we discovered that we could rent bikes to experience the falls. So, Mrs. Play Gourmet and the kid did some recon and came back with a glowing report. It was so good in fact, that we went biking as a family the next day.

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Now after a long bike ride, you can imagine how hot and depleted one might feel. The obvious solution to this situation is ice cream. We seem to have a favorite ice cream shop in every city we visit. (I actually think that is true now that I say it.) That being said, De-Dee’s Dairy is incredible with about 50 flavors of Perry’s Ice Cream and portions that immediately disqualify Western New Yorkers from affordable healthcare.

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This ice cream is called the baby size. We thought it might be cool to get a large, just for fun, but that is literally 8 scoops, or 8 times what our little Play Gourmet is undertaking in the photo. So, against our worse judgement, we decided not to do it. Would have been one heck of a photo though.

We not only saw the falls from the typical vantage point, but we got within a few hundred yards of the falls on Uncle Charlie’s boat with Aunt Sasha. That has to be worth a check mark on the agenda.

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Meanwhile back in the kitchen….

Mrs. Play Gourmet and I have been receiving signals to make shrimp and grits for weeks now. It started when she was served them at a baby shower. Since then, we have read about them in various blogs, and discovered them on random menus, including the shrimp and grits taco at Velvet Taco in Dallas. The latest sign was walking into Uncle Mark and Aunt Sasha’s basement and seeing a HUGE 30 lb cast iron skillet hanging on the wall.

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It was that moment, that we knew we were going to make shrimp and grits here.

We started with grits. And the key to these grits, is to make them VERY thick and creamy. We chose to make them with whole milk, and heavy cream to accomplish this consistency.

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Once those were simmering, we started browning some andouille and chopped bacon in our marvelous piece of iron.

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After that, we coated a pound of peeled shrimp with flour, 

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and lightly cooked them in the skillet after removing the sausage and bacon.

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Then we got some onion and celery going in some of that bacon grease and shrimp remnants.

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Once those looked ready, we added the andouille and bacon to it.

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We were then ready to make the rue. We added some clam juice and chicken stock, and finally some grape tomatoes.

 

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Then we let it simmer.

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In about 15 minutes, it cooked way down.

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And at this point we are ready for the finishing touches. Adding shrimp, some worcestershire and tabasco…

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Stirred, and the rue became so thick that when you scraped the bottom of the pan, it took a second for the liquid to replace what had been swept away.

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Finito!

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This is the last recipe for shrimp and grits you will ever need. It absolutely blew our minds. Watching this concoction come together was as satisfying and gratifying as cooking can be. And the flavor was so complex. Each bite offered a new experience. Spicy, sweet, salty… then you get one of those grape tomatoes, and you get a flavorful explosion of acidity. It was a masterpiece.

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Did I mentioned eating was on the agenda? Uncle Mark can’t reunite with the Play Gourmet’s without showing off his cajun boil skills.

Enjoy this slide show to see what an expert pairs with a shrimp and grits show piece.

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This picture sums it up pretty well.

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And so does this one.

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