A recent trip to the low country to target big bull redfish in the surf around Beaufort, South Carolina, ended with a lot of fun and some great fish dishes.
The big reds decided not to cooperate, so we scaled down our gear and moved a bit inland to the canals that snake around Saltmarsh Serenity, our vacation home rental for the week. Speckled trout and slot limit sized keeper redfish were hungry for live shrimp fished under a small popping cork.
Low country fish deserve low country fixings, so we cooked up some local stone-ground grits with Gouda cheese. A sprinkle of a locally made spice blend and a quick sauté in butter were all the fish needed. For the sauce, we pan-seared some diced prosciutto from Chestnut Hill Cheese, a local cheese and charcuterie shop near the house, and sautéed some bell pepper and shallots in the resulting pan drippings. A splash of coffee to deglaze the pan and a few pats of butter finished the red-eye gravy sauce.
3 to 4 keeper-sized trout or redfish, filleted
4 tablespoons butter, divided
1 tablespoon Seaside Grown Fish Dust
8 ounces diced country ham or thick sliced prosciutto
1 bell pepper, diced
2 shallots, finely chopped
1 cup coffee
3 cups water
2 tablespoons butter, divided
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup stone-ground grits
1 cup heavy cream or whole milk
1 cup shredded Gouda cheese
Start the grits by bringing the water, 1 tablespoon of butter, and salt to a boil. Stir in the grits and reduce the heat to a low simmer. Cover the pan and simmer for 25 minutes, stirring occasionally. Stir in the cream, shredded cheese, and remaining butter. Continue at a simmer for another 10 to 15 minutes.
While the grits simmer, heat 2 tablespoons of butter in a skillet over medium heat. Lightly dust both sides of each fillet with Fish Dust. Cook the fish for 3 to 5 minutes per side or until it just starts to flake apart. Move the fish to a warm plate.
Add the diced prosciutto or country ham to the skillet. Sauté for 3 to 5 minutes to render the fat. Remove the meat from the pan and reserve. Add the diced bell pepper and shallot to the pan.
Cook until the peppers are soft and the shallot translucent. Pour in the coffee and bring to a light boil. Use a spatula to scrape up any stuck-on bits from the bottom of the pan. Continue at a boil until the liquid reduces by about half. Add the remaining butter, 1 tablespoon at a time, and stir until each pat has melted into the sauce. Once all the butter has melted, return the diced prosciutto to the pan.
To plate, add grits to a plate or bowl, top with a serving of fish, then spoon over the red-eye gravy sauce.
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