Despite my extreme dislike of gender roles, it has to be said: this one's for the dudes.
I married a [tall, handsome, sweet-as-pie] Cajun. Having spent a few years in Louisiana myself, I can empathize with becoming weak-kneed before a steamy bowl of gumbo and salivating at the thought of freshly fried beignets. That being said, it's not exactly the healthiest of cuisines, so these recipes are in the "every once in a while" file.
Collard greens, yet another vegetable you shouldn't cook the crap out of. I think it tastes best (and the most like itself, if that makes sense) with just a quick saute.
Grits are something I had never made before. From "My Cousin Vinny" I was aware that no self-respecting Southerner cooks instant grits, so off to the bulk bins I went in search of the real deal. There they were, old-fashioned stone ground grits. I had some random leftover cheeses in the fridge like this Oaxaca (a really mild Mexican mozzarella, basically) and a nub of gruyere. Because everything is better with cheese, into the grits they went. Ohh it was good.
Initially I had intended this meal to just be shrimp and sausage, but in true dude-fashion, Allan wandered into the kitchen while I was prepping and excitedly said "Oh, are we having shrimp and sausage and grits??" I replied that yes indeed we are! Aren't I the Good Southern Wife! *Beam*! Then he said "And... steak?!"
Fine, and steak. Why not.
~ 12 large shrimp
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tbsp butter
1 tsp chili powder
1 tsp black pepper
2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
1/2 tbsp lemon juice
2 steaks of your choice (I halved a 7oz Omaha fillet lengthwise so I had two thin steaks)
1 smoked andouille sausage, sliced on the bias
1/2 cup old-fashioned grits
a cup or so of random melty cheese from your fridge, shredded
1 lb collard greens, center ribs removed, leaves sliced into thin ribbons
In a bowl, drizzle the shrimp with olive oil and combine with the garlic and pinch of kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper. Set aside.
Start with the grits. In a medium saucepan, bring 2 cups of water to a boil. Whisk in your grits and reduce the heat to low. Visit them often to whisk as they cook. Mine took around 20 minutes, which was enough time to prep everything else.
Melt the butter in the microwave and stir in the chili powder, black pepper, Worcestershire sauce and lemon juice. Set aside in a big bowl, you'll toss your shrimp and sausage into it at the end.
In a large heavy-bottomed pan, start to brown your sausage in a little olive oil (a real Cajun would use peanut, but I am only Cajun-by-proxy and I like my heart-healthy olive oil dammit). Once they start to pick up some color, throw your steaks in as well. I simply salted and peppered the steaks lightly - the sausage brings a lot of flavor, as will the buttery sauce at the end. Cook the steaks to your liking (medium rare for us). Remove them to the plates to rest.
While the steaks and sausage are going, heat a drizzle of olive oil in a large non-stick skillet and when hot, saute your collard greens down for just a couple of minutes. Season them with kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper.
Your grits are probably done, so test them and if they are, stir in the cheese. Taste it; some cheeses are saltier than others, so you may or may not need to add salt.
When everything else is ready, add the shrimp to the skillet and cook with the sausage until just opaque, it shouldn't take more than 2 or 3 minutes. Empty the skillet contents into the butter and spice mixture and coat everything thoroughly. Smother your steak and grits with the spicy salty buttery shrimp and sausage and feel virtuous because you have a big pile of healthy collard greens to eat as well.
Serves 2, takes half an hour.