I’m hard pressed to find a protein that doesn’t pair well with grits. Call it my upbringing or call it plain crazy, but to me, grits are a great medium for eating with just about any meat. One of my favorite “special occasion” dishes is a pan-seared fish on top of grits, and given Ge Ge’s penchant for all things fresh seafood, I thought maybe, just maybe, I’d found another match in heaven.
Fish and grits aren’t uncommon in the Lowcountry — in fact, grits often make a nice sideshow to any good fish fry. However, I like to make mine a little bit lighter, given how rich grits can be. Ge Ge even gets involved. He loves seasoning and preparing the fish for searing. I mean, between smearing finger paints and learning how to evenly season a cod filet, I’d choose the latter any day myself.
I’m pretty sure he would too, actually.
- 4 cod fillets (or other mild, hearty whitefish, like halibut)
- 1 teaspoon flour
- ¼ cup unsalted butter plus 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
- 2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
- 2-3 medium tomatoes, diced
- ¼ cup dry white wine
- 1 garlic clove, minced
- ½ onion, diced
- 1.5 cups stone-ground grits
- 2 cups water
- 2 cups + ¼ cup heavy cream, divided
- ½ cup Parmesan cheese, grated
- 1 avocado, sliced
- 2 tablespoons cilantro, diced (optional)
- salt and pepper to taste
- Rinse and pat the fillets dry with a paper towel and set aside.
- In a fine mesh strainer, rinse the grits to separate the husks from the grits. In a large pot, bring the grits, water, heavy cream and ¼ cup butter to a boil, then reduce to a simmer. Continue stirring frequently.
- While grits are simmering, heat a heavy saute pan over medium heat. Add 1 tablespoon each of butter and olive oil.
- Add onions and saute for 2-3 minutes until slightly browned and translucent. Add garlic and continue sauteeing for 1 minute.
- Add tomatoes, followed by white wine. Bring to a boil, then cover and reduce heat to simmer.
- In a separate saute pan, heat pan over medium-high heat.
- While pan is heating, season fish with flour, salt and pepper.
- When pan is hot, add remaining butter and olive oil.
- Place fish in pan and immediately jostle a little to keep the fish from sticking to the pan. Sear each side of the fish approximately 3-5 minutes (depending on thickness).
- Stir in ¼ cup heavy cream into tomato sauce.
- Serve grits in individual bowls topped with fish fillets and sauce. Top with cilantro and avocado.