Comfort food is . . . well, comforting. But the best kinds invoke within us something borderline primordial: a taste that recalls a nurturing hand or a nostalgia for a Southern grandma’s cooking (if you’re lucky enough to have one).
It’s safe to say chef Greg Carter, who grew up on the North Shore, never did have that kind of grandma. But you’d have trouble guessing it.
At the Ten Mile House, Carter’s menu dives headlong into wood-fired pizzas and classic comfort food that includes pork-shoulder poutine, spiced pork tenderloin, and dry-rubbed baby back ribs.
One of the biggest hits so far for the new restaurant on Central Street in Evanston is Carter’s take on a New Orleans-style BBQ shrimp that has been slightly altered.
“I wanted something that had a little bit more texture and depth to it,” he says.
In an act of what might be described as sacrilege by some, he chose to add polenta over grits to his
It took about 8 to 10 tries to get it absolutely right; with the end result being this recipe —adapted from chef Carter’s cookbook — which is bursting with flavor. Roasted tomatoes and chilies, with peppers like the Aleppo that travels all the way from Syria (“not too spicy and it has a good smoky flavor to it”), lots of garlic, and a white wine base elevate and refine the simple joys found in home-style cooking. Grandma would be proud.
TOTAL TIME: 30 minutes
1 teaspoon lemon zest
1 teaspoon ancho chili powder
2 teaspoons Aleppo pepper
2 tablespoons green onion, diced
1 tablespoon parsley, chopped
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 small ripe tomato, small dice
1 Poblano pepper, diced
1 Serrano pepper, diced
½ cup of white wine
1 teaspoon (or more depending on taste) red chili flakes
freshly ground black pepper
4 tablespoons butter
16-24 jumbo shrimp with shells removed
2 cups whole milk
½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
½ cup polenta
½ cup parmesan cheese
4 tablespoon butter
½ teaspoon nutmeg
1 cup parmesan cheese, grated
salt and pepper to taste
- Put milk in a saucepan and bring to a simmer. Add spices and while whisking slowly add the polenta. Turn down the heat and whisk often but not continuously. Cook the polenta for about 10 minutes.
- Heat olive oil in a sauté pan over medium to high heat. Add shrimp and cook to get color, turn once and add all ingredients up to the wine. Sauté for 1 minute before adding the wine and butter. Swirl pan until butter is melted.
- The polenta should have the consistency of soft oatmeal. Add more milk or polenta to get to the right texture if need be. Finish with the butter and cheese and adjust seasoning to your taste.