Langostino & Grits
There have been lots of controversies over the langostino. Restaurants have been sued over advertising them as lobster meat which in fact they are not. Langostinos are definitely in the crustacean family but are more closely related to the porcelain crab and the hermit crab as opposed to the lobster and prawn family. Which is really weird since their tails look like they come from the lobster family.They are sometimes referred to as ‘squat lobsters’. Typically they live on top of coral reefs and are found all over the world.
Last weekend I went Costco’s and found langostinos in the seafood section pre-cooked and bundled in 2 lbs. packages. I thought it was interesting that the label said Langostino Lobster Tails. In this age of accurately labeling food that’s a no-no. Any way as with any pre-cooked seafood it is very important not to overcook them when using them in a heated dish. I just added them at the last minute and gently warmed them right before serving the dish. I have to say that pre-cooked langostinos are far easier to use in a dish than having to shell all these tiny little crustaceans. That could take forever and would not be an ideal dish to serve when time is critical like a weeknight meal.
Also on the same day I visited Costco’s I made my weekly pilgrimage to the Hong Kong Supermarket and came across two huge bins of fresh corn on the cob right in the entry way to the market selling 4 for $1.00. I couldn’t resist since I haven’t seen fresh corn in so long (remember the summer drought in the mid-west that ruin the corn crop) and at such a good price so I loaded up on corn.
With the three day Martin Luther King Holiday weekend and my son home from college I had a gang of hungry young men to feed. What to feed these guys? I stood staring into the frig and thought “langostino & grits” would be perfect to feed a large crowd so I embarked upon pulling together a bag of grits that I had purchased at the Norcross Whistle Stop Farmers market last summer, the corn on the cob, a couple of spicy hot Italian sausages, onion and a few Roma tomatoes that I had leftover from the previous nights salad and here is the recipe that came out of all these ingredients that I just happen to have on hand. I must say the young men were as intrigued with the langostinos label as I was so it made for a lively discussion at the table on food labeling. They also loved the fact that beer was used in this dish. Imagine that!
Langostino & Grits
2 cups of stone-ground grits
4 cups of chicken stock
4 cups of milk
2 cups of shredded parmesan cheese
½ cup of heavy cream
6 Tablespoons of unsalted butter
2 links of spicy Italian sausage cooked and chopped into ½” chunks
1 large Spanish onion diced
4 ears of fresh corn, kernels removed – about 3 cups of kernels
2 cups of diced tomatoes
¼ teaspoon of red pepper flakes
2 cups of lager beer
Freshly ground black pepper
2 lbs. of pre-cooked langostinos, rinsed
Bring the chicken stock and the milk to a simmer in a large 5-6 quart heavy bottomed saucepan. In a large bowl cover the grits with cold water and whisk for 30 seconds. Skim off any chaff that has floated to the top. Drain grits and whisk into simmering stock/milk mixture on the stove. Reduce heat to low and simmer grits partially covered. Stir often so that the grits don’t clump together or stick to the bottom of the pan. Cook for about an hour. Stir in the cheese and the cream. Remove from heat and keep warm.
In a large deep skillet, melt the butter on medium- high heat. Add the sausage chunks and sauté until brown and crisp. Add the onion and sauté until translucent. Add the corn, tomato and the red pepper flakes, cook for about 5 minutes or until the tomatoes have released their juices and are soft. Add the beer, salt and pepper to taste and simmer until reduced about 5 minutes. Add the langostinos and warm for about 2 minutes.
Spoon the grits into bowl and top with the langostino mixture including the sauce. Serve immediately.