Wednesday, February 27, 2019

Best Bets: Edge Alley Shrimp and Grits

Posted By on Wed, Feb 27, 2019 at 2:30 PM

click to enlarge Shrimp and grits at Edge Alley. - MICHAEL DONAHUE
  • Michael Donahue
  • Shrimp and grits at Edge Alley.

Shrimp and grits is a popular New Orleans dish. So, if you’re celebrating Fat Tuesday in the Bluff City instead of in the Big Easy, throw on some Mardi Gras beads and head over to Edge Alley for chef/owner Tim Barker's version of shrimp and grits.

I believe the first time I tried shrimp and grits was at City Grocery restaurant in Oxford, Miss. It was amazingly delicious. I probably thought at the time, “Who could have come up with such an amazing thing?”

That was decades ago. Over the years, I’ve eaten shrimp and grits in many locations, including buffets at parties.

Also over the years, I seem to forget there usually is meat of some kind in shrimp and grits. I’ll order it on a night when I don’t want meat and then suddenly I’m surprised to find chorizo peeping out of my grits.

Well, there’s no meat in Barker’s shrimp and grits at Edge Alley. They’re fabulous. Shrimp, grits, tomatoes, onions, garlic, herbs, and spices. An entree with as much comfort as a Stratolounger.

“I prefer the shrimp and grits that doesn’t have ham in it,” Barker says. “Or sausage. I don’t think it’s necessary. But roasting all the vegetables and getting that char, nice deep color, we’re able to achieve the same effect without adding ham.”

And, he says, “I’m not a fan of heavier, salty shrimp and grits. My goal with our recipe is to make a lighter, fresher, more healthful approach.”

There is butter in his shrimp and grits. “It’s not exactly ‘healthy.’ I put a fair amount of butter in it. But I’m in the camp that says butter is good for you. A lot of people have condemned butter, but everything in moderation. In a sauce made of roasted vegetables, a little butter won’t hurt you.”

Describing his shrimp and grits, Barker says, “Lilghtly blackened Gulf shrimp. The sauce is charred. Spicy-charred tomato sauce. And then our pimento cheese grits.

“The technique we use to prepare our grits is fluffier and lighter so they’re not heavy and gloopy. Mine are, from the outset, designed to be lighter and almost fluffy.”

I’ve added a video of Barker making his shrimp and grits like he does at home instead of in a larger quantity like he does at Edge Alley.

So, turn on the video and let the good times roll in Barker’s kitchen.

Edge Alley is at 600 Monroe No. 101; (901) 425-2605

click to enlarge Tim Barker - MICHAEL DONAHUE
  • Michael Donahue
  • Tim Barker

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