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Shrimp & Cheesy Grit Cake Bites – Ultra creamy grit patties are fried and served with a buttery sauteed shrimp and crispy bacon to create an appetizer that your guests will go crazy for. Pairs perfectly with any dinner party and the flavors of Chardonnay wine!
Today is an important post. Well, all my posts are important (duh) but today is especially important because we’re talking wines.
Wine is essential to any dinner party or get-together, am I right? I cannot host a function at our place without it. There would be a mutiny.
But choosing the right wine can get tricky. Do you get red or white? What do you serve with the wine? In this post, I am going to feature a great wine for your next dinner party and the perfect appetizer to serve alongside of it.
Meet the wine: Notable Chardonnay. Chardonnay is a great wine to serve a crowd because so many people love it. And with National Chardonnay Day just around the corner on May 21, this is the best way to celebrate!
Notable Chardonnay comes in a California Chardonnay and an Australia Chardonnay. These are brand-new wines that hit shelves in March 2017. The most distinguishable (and convenient!) characteristic about these wines is that they highlight the flavor profiles right on the label so you know exactly how to pair the wine. See, don’t you feel more confident about this pairing stuff, already??
For this pairing, I’m going to focus on the flavor notes of the Notable: California Chardonnay. “Butter. Oak. Vanilla.” What do those adjectives mean to you, in terms of food? To me, I immediately think of rich and creamy pasta or a buttery shrimp or lobster that is either grilled or broiled. And for added oaky taste, maybe some bacon?
Before selecting our recipe, though, there are also some “Don’ts” to consider when pairing with Chardonnay:
- DON’T pair with super spicy food – the subtle flavors in Chardonnay can be easily overwhelmed
- DON’T pair with bitter foods – these can make the Chardonnay taste sour
- DON’T pair with acidic foods, like vinaigrette or fresh tomatoes
Since we’re looking for a great appetizer, not a main dish, pasta and lobster are out. I love shrimp in ceviche and it’s a great appetizer but that’s out because it’s too acidic. Shrimp gumbo can be served in small little bowls with rice as another incredible appetizer options but that’s out because it’s too spicy. But wait…there’s another creole dish that just might be the perfect pairing for this Chardonnay and it is served with a rich and cheesy sidekick: Shrimp & Grits!
To make shrimp & grits in the most appetizer-friendly dish, I made a favorite of mine that they serve at restaurants all over Atlanta: Shrimp & Grit Cake Bites.
If you’ve never tried grit cakes, please warn your taste buds about the flavor explosion that is about to occur. The grits are cooked in a chicken broth, cream, and butter mixture and spiced with garlic and onion and a pinch of creole seasoning. So if the only grits you’ve had were bland, instant, and from a box, prepare to taste the right way to eat grits.
Moreover, the texture explosion is what took these over the edge for me. You think grits are super creamy and dreamy? Imagine what happens to them once they get fried! Creaminess to the extreme.
Full disclosure: I ate about 4 grit cakes before I added the shrimp. I just couldn’t stop myself!
There is no denying that these rich, buttery, grit cakes will pair perfectly with the notes of the Chardonnay. But we still have to add one more element to them to elevate them to the next pairing level: sauteed shrimp, bacon, and veggies.
You could always just use the shrimp on its own, but, like I said above, bacon adds a smokey flavor to the shrimp which will make it pair even better with the Chardonnay. And the veggies are necessary to add a little sweetness and freshness to already-rich shrimp and grit cakes. Plus, they add another color palette to the appetizer which makes them even more pleasing to look at, wouldn’t you agree?
So how does this dish come together? Here are the steps, in a nutshell:
- Make grits and let them cool
- Cut out round grit cakes and dredge in flour, egg, and breadcrumbs
- Fry grit cakes
- Make shrimp
- Compile shrimp and grit cakes
Easier than you thought, right??
The most fun part is cutting out the grit cakes and dredging them, at least it was for me. It’s not something I get to do that often so I had fun on that step. Who doesn’t like getting their hands a little dirty?!
Once you take a bite of these shrimp & grit cake bites and sip of the Notable: Chardonnay, you’ll immediately notice how smooth the wine tastes when it hits your tongue. Wine-pairing success!
To help you feel confident about making these shrimp & grit cake bites and properly pairing them with Notable: Chardonnay, here are a few helpful tips:
- Before serving the wine, let it sit out of the fridge for 20 minutes. Chardonnay is best served around 45 degrees, whereas you fridge is probably closer to 35 degrees. You get much fuller flavor from the wine when it’s at the correct temperature.
- Though we focused on pairing with the Notable: California Chardonnay, either Chardonnay variety will taste perfect with this appetizer.
- The grits have to be completely set before you start cutting circles. Therefore, I make mine the day before I need to serve the grit cakes so the grits have enough time to set in the fridge.
- Do not fry too many grit cakes at once. This will cause the oil temperature to drop and make your cakes all greasy before they have a chance to brown properly.
- Once the grit cakes have fried, you then turn your attention to the shrimp mixture. Shrimp take almost no time to cook, but just in case, it’s best to keep the grit cakes warm in the oven so they don’t get cold before serving. My oven has a “warm” setting that I use, but if yours does not, you can simply set between 180 to 200 degrees and that will do the trick.
- If you’re short on time on the day you are serving the shrimp & grit cake bites, you can make the grit cakes ahead of time and reheat in a 350-degree oven until warm, about 7-10 minutes. I do not recommend making the shrimp ahead of time because they can taste rubbery when reheated.
Alrighty, now you have all you need for an amazing dinner party appetizer and wine pairing. How excited are you to try this pair together? You’re taste buds will surely thank you. And your guests are going to be so impressed!
Make sure you check out the Notable Chardonnay site to find out where you can buy these new wines in your neighborhood! And don’t forget to celebrate National Chardonnay Day on May 21st!
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