Welcome back to Foodie Fridays, y’all!
I started thinking: “What should I make for Foodie Fridays?” And I thought about all the possibilities. It was pretty overwhelming. There’s just so much.
But anybody who knows me, knows I love breakfast and I love Southern/Soul food. So naturally, the obvious choice was an easy and simple breakfast that also happens to be my favorite: Salmon croquettes and grits with a poached egg.
I was introduced to this dish from my ex-wife. I grew up in Idaho. I had eaten grits before, mostly because my grandmother was from Alabama and ate them on occasion as well as my mother who also lived in Alabama for a few short years early on in her childhood.
But when I first ate grits (and for a long time after until a friend who was a Georgia native finally corrected me on the proper way to eat grits) I made them sweet. Syrup, sugar or whatever sweetening agent I could find. Bottom line: that’s sacrilege.
After living in Georgia for six years, it’s hard not to love the culture and the food. And so, I’ve been perfecting my grits for the past ten years or so. I think I’m finally getting to the point of near perfection with them. And they’ve taken a complete 180˚ turn-around since their sweet days. Now they’re creamy, smooth, rich and savory the way they’re meant to be, seasoned with sea salt, pepper, oregano, sage, garlic and cooked slowly in milk and a bit of butter. The trick is not to rush the grits even though you may have a box of “quick” or “instant” grits (Sidenote: never trust any grits that call themselves instant. It’s a set up for failure). Good grits should take somewhere in the neighborhood of 20 or 30 minutes to cook. So don’t rush them.
The salmon is mixed up with celery, onions, green onions, garlic, smoked alderwood sea salt (which I highly recommend for seafood and barbecue dishes and you can find it at specialty grocers), egg and flour. It’s then formed into patties and fried in oil until browned. Really simple. And the trick to frying is temperature control. You don’t want it too hot or it’ll burn nor too cold or it’ll overcook and get soggy with oil. I usually set the temp at medium high knowing the first one may come out slightly burnt but once you add more croquettes to the oil, it’ll cool the oil to the right temperature.
So is it fresh salmon? No. In fact, I’ve only ever used canned/packaged salmon. Disgusting, I know. I’m not one for canned meats but it’s cheaper and already cut up. I have found that the salmon that comes in military MRE-style pouches actually tastes a whole lot better than the actual canned stuff. The reason is because the canned stuff has to be cooked twice to ensure it’s free of toxins: once before it’s canned and then again after it’s canned. The packaged stuff is only cooked once and then packaged. Plus salmon that comes in the package is already de-boned.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not opposed to using fresh salmon. On the contrary, I’m sure it would make the dish taste all that much better. But since it’s a breakfast meal, I don’t usually feel like going all out and filleting or skinning a salmon and then cutting up the meat. It’s really just a convenience thing. One of these days, I will make it with fresh salmon, I swear.
And the last part of the meal is nothing more than a poached egg. That’s it. Poached is better for this dish than fried for two reasons: 1. There’s already enough fried, oily and buttery goodness going on in the dish. There’s no reason to compound that. 2. What really makes this dish come together are the flavors, particularly when you cut into the egg and the yolk runs all over everything. It can be hard to get that perfect yolk consistency when frying an egg.
What comes out is a great breakfast that even my picky 8-year old nephew devoured. He especially loved the salmon croquettes that he asked for seconds. He never asks for seconds. He even ate the grits and has never liked them. It must have been good.
There are two plating options and both are perfectly acceptable. The first is, well, on a plate. And the second is in a bowl. I’m a fan of the bowl myself.
And that’s how you cook a soul breakfast, y’all. Enjoy!