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Jameson Clark serves up a Southern seafood delight

Newcomer Jameson Clark grew up in South Carolina, a state that's both coastal and Southern. That's why folks down there like to eat shrimp and grits. Together.

"This is very true to me and where I'm from," says Jameson, as he whips up his own version of this Carolina favorite. "This is just a variation of things people have been doing for years down there. It's a great combination."

Jameson, who recently hit the charts with "You Da Man," came up with his own recipe for Carolina shrimp and grits while vacationing in his home state last summer. "I wanted to try to cook a special brunch," he says. "So I embellished upon a recipe of my mother's, and some things I'd seen on TV. I cook by feel a lot of times, and that's what I did with this."

As it happens, Jameson has been cooking since he was a teen. With his mother going back to college and his father often working late, he and his brother were forced to learn their way around the kitchen.

Then when he came to Nashville to pursue country music, he headed for the songwriters' hangout Douglas Corner. "I wanted to be around the people who were making the real music," he recalls.

He soon discovered a way he could do that and get paid, too. "I saw a sign that said they were looking for a short-order cook, so I lied my way into the job!" he laughs. "They asked me if I had any experience and I said, 'Yeah' - but I didn't."

Jameson succeeded nonetheless, staying on at the club for five years. He learned a lot about songwriting there - and about cooking. "It taught me how to cook fast and not scorch anything," he reports.

Now that Jameson is singing, not cooking, for a living - his first album, Workin' On A Groove, is now in stores - he still heads to the kitchen to relax. "It's therapeutic," he says. "I just get lost in doing it. It takes your mind off everyday stuff. You have a glass of wine and spend some time cooking, it really takes the edge off. Plus, it tastes good!"

Jameson especially enjoys cooking for his wife, Amanda, an architect. "She works sometimes until 6 or 7," he explains, "and it's nice to have dinner ready for her when she gets home."

But he's not just cooking out of kindness. "I have a deal with my wife where when I cook, she does dishes," he says with a grin. "That keeps my hands looking as nice as they do!"

-- Chris Neal
Photo by Tim Campbell
carolina shrimp and grits ingredients

  • 3/4 cup Quaker Quik Grits
  • 1/2 lb. fresh, peeled Carolina shrimp
  • 1 large yellow bell pepper, diced
  • 1 medium yellow onion, diced
  • 2 cups fresh mushrooms, quartered
  • 1 cup fresh diced tomato
  • 1 14-oz. can of chicken broth
  • 11/2 cups white wine
  • 12 oz. beer
  • 3 tbsp. fresh basil
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 2 tbsp. butter
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 cup grated cheddar cheese
  • salt and pepper to taste

Soak shrimp in beer for one hour before cooking.
Cover onions and pressed garlic with olive oil and butter over medium heat in a large frying pan, and cook until onions begin to soften.
Add bell peppers, tomatoes and mushrooms and continue cooking until mushrooms and peppers are cooked.
Add two tablespoons basil and 1/2 cup of wine. Increase heat and let simmer, then add chicken broth and bring to a boil.
Let cook for five minutes, then add remainder of wine, return to boil and add shrimp.
While stirring, slowly begin adding grits. (Grits are done when they begin to pull away from outside to center of pan.)
Remove from heat, cover with cheese and garnish with remainder of basil.
Serve with cantaloupe or fresh melon.