Chile Rubbed Salmon over Cheddar Grits
I wrote this post as part of the Plugrá Butter Brigade. Thanks, Plugrá, for sponsoring this post and for making my favorite butter!
I dumped several spools of yellow curling ribbon out of my book bag and started cutting off lengths to tie around the willing arms of my classmates. Someone tied mine on. My coursing adrenaline had turned my head into a pressure cooker. I was walking into trouble and I knew it. But I also knew our cause was just.
As we collected our books, I surveyed the group around me one last time. We were a rag-tag bunch of middle school students, some in flip-flops or sneakers and others sporting the latest Timberland boots. Bob, whose real name was Daniel, stood tall and weird over in the corner. Jamie, who had singlehandedly launched the layered-curls trend that many girls subsequently tried to emulate with less success, was being effortlessly cool off to the right. Our yellow armbands probably looked like sad bows ripped off a kindergartener’s present and trampled in a hasty exodus toward a birthday bouncy house. But in my mind, they looked like something a warrior might wear.
The bell rang. Just like that, we marched out into the hallway and began what seemed then like the ultimate act of rebellion: we turned right instead of left.
LEFT was the way we’d been told to go. The halls all had designated directions now. You could only turn LEFT in the basement hallway, RIGHT on the first floor, and who knows what direction on the second floor since none of us ever went up there. These rules by themselves wouldn’t have been so bad. Indeed, they might have fulfilled their purpose and controlled the chaos in the hallways. But the administrators also ran bright yellow tape down the center of each hallway to divide it into two lanes, and we were instructed to only walk in the right lane.
THINK ABOUT THAT FOR A MINUTE. The reason you use lanes is to divide traffic going in opposing directions. But we were only allowed to go in one direction in each hallway. Are you getting a clear visual here? Because of the new rules, one side of every hallway was always empty while we were all crammed into a tiny right lane. Someone had made these stupid rules without thinking much about them and without ever coming to look at the effect they had. And when we complained, the administrators clamped down to assert their authority instead of listening to reason. So it was time to march. Our curly yellow armbands bounced in time to our steps as we flexed our tiny civil disobedience muscles that day.
To be honest, I don’t remember if anything changed because of our little show of resistance. I do remember, however, at least a half dozen other issues that found me standing up to my administration, my school board, and to other governing bodies in subsequent years. I’m not particularly rebellious, but I feel compelled to speak out when something doesn’t seem right.
The church I attend right now uses a personality test (kind of like the Meyers-Briggs) called the Enneagram. I’ve been avoiding it for fear of finding out something bad about myself, but I finally caved the other day. My personality type is tied between 1 and 3, the Reformer and the Achiever. What’s hilarious about the results is that they perfectly described how I’m someone who feels the urge to speak out — and someone who is terrified of being wrong!
Both of those poles are held in tension as I prepare to write here every week. It’s a relief to share the fun stories about teaching, hot yoga, and my obsession with Bob Ross. It’s harder, but still so important to me, to share about my faith and my convictions about how to live it out in today’s world. Who are our widows and orphans? What is our meat offered to idols? What is our circumcision of the heart? What is our freedom? Who is our neighbor? I churn these harder thoughts about justice around all the time, waiting for the urge that lets me know it’s time to break out my yellow ribbons and hope they meet your willing arms.
For now, an offering of some Southern comfort: chile rubbed salmon over melt-in-your-mouth buttery cheese grits. Mike and I were in comfort food heaven while eating this, and I can’t wait to use these grits in other recipes, too. Enjoy!
Have you taken the Meyers-Briggs or Enneagram? What is your personality type? Do you think it fits you? (By the way, I’m INFJ!)
One year ago: Hot Raspberry Cake with Vanilla Ice Cream
Two years ago: Strawberry Lemonade Cheesecake Bars with a Shortbread Crust
Three years ago: Lemon Raspberry Squares
Four years ago: Soft Sugar Cookies
Five years ago: Spicy Peach and Cucumber Salsa
Six years ago: Cheddar Chive and Bacon Cupfakes with Avocado Frosting
- 1 teaspoon cumin
- 1 teaspoon chili powder
- 1 teaspoon brown sugar
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 (1-pound) filet of salmon
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1/2 cup stone-ground grits
- 2 cups milk
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 3 tablespoons Plugrá butter
- 2 tablespoons heavy cream
- 1 1/2 cups shredded sharp Cheddar cheese (splurge for the good stuff)
- freshly ground black pepper
- green onions
- Make the salmon spice rub: Whisk together the cumin, chili powder, brown sugar, and salt. Rub the spice mix on the salmon filet (on both sides if it's skinless, but on just the exposed side if it's skin-on.) Set the filet aside while you start the grits.
- Make the cheddar grits: In a medium saucepan, bring 2 cups of milk and 1 teaspoon salt to a boil. Whisk in the grits. Reduce the heat to low and cover the grits, cooking until all the milk is absorbed (see the directions on your package for how long this should take. Mine took 15 minutes). Remove from the heat and whisk in the butter, heavy cream, and cheddar until smooth. Season to taste with pepper (and salt if more is needed; I didn't need to add any. Remember that your salmon will be seasoned separately). Cover the grits and set aside until you're ready to serve.
- Make the salmon: While the grits are absorbing their liquid, cook the salmon. Heat the olive oil in a medium skillet over medium heat until shimmering. Place the fish in skin side down and cook without disturbing for 4-5 minutes before turning over and cooking for 4 minutes on the other side (thicker cuts might need 6-7 minutes per side -- mine was about 1 inch thick at its thickest point -- but keep in mind the fish will continue to cook when you tent it with foil). Remove the fish from the heat, tent it with foil, and allow it to rest for 10 minutes. The fish will flake apart easily when done.
- Assemble: Spoon up grits into shallow bowls and top each bowl with a serving of the salmon and some green onions. Serve immediately (preferably with biscuits!)