Thursday, February 4, 2016


 Pimento Cheese Grits & Jack Daniel's Salted Caramels

By Doc Lawrence

On this day when America celebrates football with gusto, entertaining begs for some originality. While wings are fun and chili is always popular, there are, according to Chef Lara Lyn Carter, many alternatives that will earn admiration from satisfied family and guests. “This is America’s party,” says Lara Lyn, who will he one of the headliners at this month’s prestigious South Beach Wine and Food Festival, “and I like to create tasty items that add to the joy of the event.”

This year, Lara Lyn is serving a southern staple-with a twist. Instead of chili or gumbo, her guests will be served big bowls of her signature Pimento Cheese Grits “There will be a huge pot ready so everyone can serve themselves, plus another table of many nibble bits.”

The nibble bits can be anything but usually would include some traditional items from  tortillia chips, salsa, spectacular dips, gourmet cheeses, smoked salmon, smoked oysters, crab cakes, shrimp and other foods that encourage grazing throughout the game.

I just enjoyed her  Pimento Cheese Grits. The dish is delicious and pairs beautifully with several white wines, particularly German Riesling, Pinot Gris from Alsace and most any quality sparkling wine. Biltmore Estate Château Reserve Blanc de Blancs is nearly perfect. Lara Lyn suggests having large mugs for the grits, even finding some that can be personalized so guests can take them home as a remembrance.

Beverages should include a variety of wines: Caveat: no jugs of plonk! Good affordable wines are available everywhere. Lara Lyn loves the idea of having a signature beverage like an original Sangria-white and red- allowing guests to enjoy as they desire at their own pace.

Here’s two signature dishes by Chef Lara Lyn Carter crafted especially for your Super Bowl Sunday.

1 cup course ground grits (like Gayla’s from Georgia’s Shaw Farms)
4 cups chicken broth
1 tbsp. butter
4 oz. mascarpone
4 oz. sharp cheddar
4 oz. mild cheddar
1 cup diced roasted red peppers
1 tsp.Cayenne pepper
In a large pot bring the grits, broth and butter to a boil. Boil for one minute, reduce heat and simmer for 1 hour stirring occasionally and add water if needed.  Turn the heat to simmer and stir in the cheeses and peppers. Once the cheeses are melted into the grits remove the grits from the heat and serve.

16 oz. box light brown sugar
5 oz. can evaporated milk
1 stick margarine
2 tbsp. Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Whiskey1 cup chopped toasted pecans or walnuts
1 tbsp. kosher salt
Mix the brown sugar, evaporated milk, and margarine together in a heavy pot. Stirring constantly, cook the mixture over low heat until the margarine melts. Turn the heat up to medium/high and continue stirring constantly until the mixture comes to a boil. Boil for 3 minutes. Remove the pot from the heat and add the whiskey. Pour the mixture into a mixing bowl and beat until the mixture cools slightly and becomes the consistency of icing. Add the nuts and mix until just blended. Pour into a buttered 8x8 pan and sprinkle with the salt. Cover the caramel with plastic wrap and refrigerate until firm. Cut the caramels into squares.

Just in time for the pre-game entertainment, friends and family start arriving, hungry and excited. They won’t be disappointed when you served them a glass of something refreshing.

May your favorite team win!

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