June 12, 2014

blackened tofu with corn and onion grits

Yum
Still feeling the southern cooking kick I've been on, I decided grits sounded good for dinner.  I grew up in Indiana where grits is not a common word.  When I moved to the south 4 years ago I thought they were just a nasty dish people ate for breakfast.  On top of that the only grits I had ever tried were Quaker Instant Grits, and they are a far cry from the stone ground goodness that I now eat!:)  I realized I was missing something when my husband and I went to a 5-star restaurant and they served shrimp on a bed of grits... I knew there was more to them!  After trying several recipes they are now one of my FAVORITES!!!  So don't be afraid... go for it!


If you aren't familiar with grits... here is an idea of what you will be looking for at the grocery store.  Up north you probably won't see this brand, but Bob's Red Mill is more readily available and just as good!

I separated the recipe and ingredient list for these two dishes so that if you are interested in making the grits with a shrimp or chicken dish, you can easily do that.  However, the seasoning and ingredients would work perfectly to make blackened shrimp or chicken and could easily be substituted for the tofu.
Servings 3-4
Total Time 1 hr 20 min

INGREDIENTS 
(looks like a lot, but most of them your probably already have)

for the tofu
  • 1 package of extra firm tofu
  • 1/2 teaspoon sweet paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1/4 teaspoon coriander powder
  • 1/8 teaspoon cayenne (optional, if you want more spice)
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme, crushed with your fingers
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 onion, quartered and sliced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 lemon, juiced (2 tablespoons of juice)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • Fresh black pepper
  • 1/2 cup cherry or grape tomatoes, sliced in half


for the grits
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 white or yellow onion, grated
  • 1 cup whole corn kernels, freshly cut from the cob
  • 2 cups milk
  • 2 cups water
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 cup stone-ground or coarse-ground grits
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 3/4 cup grated white cheddar cheese, about 3 ounces (yellow cheddar will also work)
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh green onion greens



INSTRUCTIONS

To make the tofu:

Combine the spice blend in a small cup or bowl.


Preheat a large, cast iron skillet (or heavy bottomed pan) over medium high heat. Saute the onion in olive oil for about a 5 minutes, then add the garlic and stir for 30 seconds.


Break the tofu apart into bite sized pieces and saute for about 10 minutes, using a spatula to stir often. Get under the tofu when you are stirring, scrape the bottom and don’t let it stick to the pan, that is where the good, crispy stuff is. Use a thin metal spatula to get the job done, a wooden or plastic one won’t really cut it. The tofu should get browned on at least one side, but you don’t need to be too precise about it. The water should cook out of it and not collect too much at the bottom of the pan. If that is happening, turn the heat up and let the water evaporate.


Turn the heat down to medium.  Add the lemon juice, salt and pepper and saute a minute more. Add the spice blend and mix to incorporate.


Add the tomatoes and cook until they are warmed through and slightly broken down, about 5 minutes. Taste for salt (I found that it needed at least another 1/2 teaspoon) and seasoning and keep warm until ready to serve.


To make the grits:


Heat the oil n a heavy-bottomed saucepan over medium heat. Add the grated onion and cook, stirring, until transparent, about 2 minutes. Add the corn kernels and cook, stirring occasionally, until the kernels become soft, about 5 minutes.


Add the milk, water, and 1 teaspoon of the salt. Bring the mixture to a boil over high heat. Whisk in the grits and continue to whisk for 1-2 minutes.  Decrease the heat to low, cooking for 15 minutes whisking every few minutes.  Vent with a lid and cook another 30 minutes until grits are creamy and thick.



Stir in the butter, Parmesan, parsley, and chopped green onions. Taste and adjust for seasoning with salt and pepper.


Serve and enjoy!!






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