Lowcountry eating — with a twist


The ingredients in these iconic Lowcountry dishes may seem familiar, but the recipes are decidedly not. With these coastal-inspired ideas you can turn shrimp and grits into a shrimp and cornmeal spoonbread soufflé, or roast your Lowcountry boil on the BBQ.

Let’s get cooking…

Shrimp And Pancetta Spoonbread Soufflé
While spoonbread isn’t native to the Lowcountry, it is a Southern heritage dish.  It’s traditionally a little sweet and served with all sorts of chicken, turkey or ham dishes (always with a spoon, never cut, like a Southern version of Yorkshire pudding).  this one is perfect as an appetizer or lunch with a salad.  Serves 6-8.

2 cups whole milk
¼ teaspoon coarse kosher salt
1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
2/3-cup fine white cornmeal (not white grits)
3 large eggs, separated
1/2 lb shrimp, peeled, de-veined and coarsely chopped
4 oz. diced pancetta or bacon
1/2 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese or hoop cheese
½ medium Vidalia onion finely chopped
1 tablespoon aged balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons butter
Canola oil

Old Bay seasoning

Preheat oven to 350°F.  Butter a 1 ½- 2-quart shallow baking dish.
Sauté pancetta in a skillet over medium heat until golden. Add onion, cook until soft, season with Old Bay, add shrimp. Continue cooking until the shrimp begin to turn pink, splash with balsamic vinegar.  The shrimp should still be raw inside. Set aside.
Simmer milk in a large saucepan. Add cornmeal, whisk and cook until mixture thickens, about 3-5 minutes. Remove from heat and whisk in butter, salt, egg yolks and baking powder. Stir in pancetta, shrimp, cheese and onions. Set aside.
Beat the eggs whites until stiff, fold into the cornmeal mixture. Pour batter into prepared dish. Bake until lightly browned about 30-40 minutes. Serve immediately.
Note: You can also make this using individual ramekins.

Lowcountry Roast
A Lowcountry boil — with more robust flavor! The beauty of this dish is that it can be adapted to your preferred tastes; there are no hard and fast rules. Note: you can easily roast this in the oven at 425°F.  Serves 6-8.

6 boneless chicken thighs; skin on
2 andouille sausages, thickly sliced on the diagonal
1 Vidalia onion, medium chop
8 garlic cloves, peeled, smashed and minced
½ bunch of flat-leaf parsley leaves (or a good handful) chopped
1 (15-ounce) can crushed or diced tomatoes
1 cup Arborio rice
4-6 cups chicken stock — plus a little more if needed
1 dozen littleneck clams
1 pound fresh shrimp, peeled and de-veined – tails left on
4 ears of sweet corn, shucked and cut in half
Old Bay seasoning
Canola oil for sautéing
Special equipment: 2 aluminum roasting pans, doubled for support and when roasting.

Preheat BBQ (or oven) to 425°F. Sprinkle Old Bay seasoning generously over chicken and shrimp. Cover and refrigerate at least 1 hour.
Heat oil in a heavy large skillet over medium heat. Sauté the sausage until browned, then remove and set aside. Add chicken pieces and brown until golden on both sides. Remove, and set aside with sausage.
Add onions, garlic and parsley.  Season generously with Old Bay seasoning, and cook for 2- 3 minutes over medium heat. Add rice and more Old Bay, stir to coat rice, cook until it begins to crackle. 
Add tomatoes and stir to combine all ingredients. Continue cooking for a few minutes until the liquid thickens slightly.  Transfer to roasting pan. Pour in stock; stir so the rice absorbs the liquid evenly. Add chicken and sausages, along with all accumulated juices. Cover with foil and roast on the BBQ over indirect heat for 45 minutes,  adding more stock as needed.  
Remove foil, add clams and shrimp, stir, place corn on top then add more stock if necessary. Cover and continue roasting until the shrimp are pink and the clams have opened. Remove from heat, keep covered and let rest for 5 minutes before serving.

Creamy Peach Pie with Sour Cream Topping
A spinoff from a traditional key lime pie recipe. The sour cream topping adds just the right amount of tartness to set off the sweet Carolina peaches surrounded by creamy custard.  So easy! Serves 6-8

1 9-inch prepared piecrust, blind-baked

3 large egg yolks, room temperature
14 oz. sweetened condensed milk
5 oz. peach nectar or peach juice
1 ½ cups peeled and diced peaches (about six)
1 tsp vanilla extract

1 cup chilled sour cream
1/2 cup chilled heavy whipping cream
4 tbsp confectioner’s sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
(Whisk the above ingredients together until soft peaks form)

Beat the egg yolks in a medium bowl using a hand mixer until pale (2-3 minutes).  Gradually beat in the condensed milk and vanilla.  Continue beating another 3 minutes scraping down the sides of the bowl.  Beat in the peach nectar.
Arrange peaches in piecrust, pour filling over peaches and bake at 350°F for 25-30 minutes, or until the filling is just set.  Let pie cool completely then refrigerate at least 2 hours or covered overnight.  Before serving spoon topping over custard.