Welcome back to my Meal Plan Experiment, BA Basics by Bon Appetit magazine.
Time for the grand finale, a Friday night meal full of grease and goodness, Pimento Cheese Shrimp and Grits. Leading up to this moment, I’ve successfully cooked four meals on the meal plan, with the only tears arising from enthusiastic onion chopping (and there is A LOT of red onion in this meal plan). To see all of the meals in the Meal Plan Experiment, check out this post. Scroll down to see my review of the whole meal plan!
BA Basics Meal Plan Night #5: Pimento Cheese Shrimp and Grits
Favorite Recipe Quote
“They’ll keep cooking and become tender, creamy, delicious, the only way to tell is to taste. If they’re gritty, sandy, grainy in any way, then they’re not done yet. So yes, they’re called grits, but they shouldn’t taste…gritty.
Time to doctor up that shrimp. In a bowl, mix the shrimp with parsley, 2 tsp. lime juice, bacon, and remaining 2 tsp. sambal oelek—oh right, don’t forget salt + pepper. Almost there! Put grits into bowls. Put shrimp on grits. Put spoon into grits…and I think you can figure out the rest.”
Due to My Deviant Tendencies
First up, I used magical grits that Jeremy bought months ago that we keep in the freezer. But really, they’re Bradley’s Country Store Coarse Stone-Ground Grits, and instead of boiling for a few and chilling out, you let the liquid boil, stir in the grits, and then let it simmer for an hour. The result is delicious, but it does take a minute (and by a minute, I mean a literal hour).
I added cilantro again, because I figured it would complement the lime and sambal oelek mixed into the shrimp. I also deviated by using already cooked shrimp from Monday, which I peeled and reheated in the bacon grease. In hindsight, I really shouldn’t have put the two shrimp meals at each respective end of this week, should I?
I didn’t measure the pimento cheese at all, just dumped in the remainder, which turned out to be one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.
Make it Again?
Yes, this was actually my favorite meal of the bunch. Shrimp and grits is always delicious, but adding that pimento cheese and sambal oelek turned the grits into a confection more like queso-grits, which was pretty awesome. The spicy Asian-influenced shrimp topping was just a bonus at that point, and the whole thing heats up again delightfully.
BA Basics Meal Plan Review
Whew– done! I didn’t think I would make it, but I’m really pleased I went outside my box and completed this meal plan top to bottom. Imma start with the caveats and follow up with the positives, because I like to end on a nice note!
Disclaimer: I absolutely did not follow this plan to the letter, though I did use all five of the recipes in one week. I have outlined my individual modifications to each recipe in each individual post. My opinion has no bearing on the quality of the meal plan, it’s just how I feel about my experience.
My not-so-favorite things about this meal plan
This meal plan has no illusions about what it is: basic. I gathered after the first few recipes that it was aimed at very young cooks who are learning to branch out into new skills and ingredients, and it is a wonderful meal plan if that’s who you are. These weren’t necessarily meals or ingredients I would normally use, such as pre-made pimento cheese, but it was fun to give them a whirl and I’m thankful for the opportunity as it’s given me ideas for future adaptations.
I was expecting something a little more classic Bon Appetit (rich, complicated, and delicious), but given that the goal of the meal plan was to provide five recipes using 15 ingredients, with each prep time clocking in under an hour, I would say this is a pretty tight framework. I made the pasta, soup, and sandwich all in a row (directly disobeying the meal plan’s orders), and I felt that they all had a veeeery similar taste profile, again, due to the repetition of ingredients in each recipe. However, since there were only 15 ingredients to work with, this is to be expected, and I ain’t mad at only having to shop for 15 ingredients.
Things I liked about this meal plan
Those things being said, I really, really enjoyed the shit out of this experience. I thought the recipes were pretty creative, a great example of “working with what you’ve got”. The recipes are actually all pretty tasty, and as I’ve noted before, I now know exactly how I would like to modify them in the future. Also, if I haven’t mentioned this before, the voice and humor of the recipes is right up my alley, and I had a lot of fun reading and watching all of the supporting material before cooking every night. Huge, huge plus, in my opinion!
The most enlightening part of the experience was not having to stop at the store a single time during the week, and having a plan for dinner every single night. This, I can definitely get on board with! I felt very organized and adult, which is always top priority. I really looked forward to making dinner every night and writing the blog post the next day.
To sum up, I’m grateful that I followed through with this meal plan, which is a high quality, well written plan that made me feel awesome about cooking dinner every night. In the future, I know to examine the whole plan from a big picture standpoint before buying ingredients, so that I make preparations to modify things. I recommend the plan wholeheartedly to anyone who wants to dip their toes in the shallow end of being a responsible adult.
Do you have a meal plan you swear by? Are you one of those super adults who can actually craft their own meal plan?