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Final Four brings regional flavor and seafood recipes

Two teams from the Pacific Northwest taking on two teams from the Carolinas in this weekend’s NCAA men’s basketball Final Four. Who had that pegged? Nope, me neither. But we’re jumping on board and taking some inspiration from the two regional influences for our weekly recipe ideas at Inside Tailgating. In honor of Gonzaga and the University of Oregon, we offer a cedar-planked salmon recipe. And for the Universities of North and South Carolina? Shrimp and grits, of course.

Going from, um, left to right…..

Cedar-Planked Salmon with Red Pepper and Caper Sauce, courtesy of www.finecooking.com.

Ingredients for the sauce:
  • 1/2 cup jarred piquillo peppers or roasted red peppers
  • 1-1/2 Tbs. sherry vinegar or red-wine vinegar
  • 1/2 tsp. Dijon mustard
  • 1 medium clove garlic, minced
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1-1/2 Tbs. brine-packed capers, rinsed and chopped
  • 1-1/2 Tbs. finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
Ingredients for the salmon:
  • 1 tsp. granulated sugar
  • 1/2 tsp. ground cumin
  • 1/2 tsp. hot pimentón de la Vera (Spanish smoked paprika) or Hungarian hot paprika
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • Four 6- to 8-oz. skinless salmon fillets (preferably at least 1 inch thick)
  • 2 tsp. extra-virgin olive oil
Directions for the sauce:

Put the peppers, vinegar, mustard, and garlic in a blender and begin to puree. With the blender running, add the oil in a thin, steady stream. Transfer to a small bowl, stir in the capers, parsley, 1/2 tsp. salt, and 1/8 tsp. pepper. Season to taste with more salt and pepper if needed. The sauce can be made up to two days ahead and stored in the refrigerator.

Directions for the salmon:

Soak a cedar plank in cold water for at least 1 hour and up to 12 hours. In a small bowl, mix the sugar, cumin, pimentón, 1-1/2 tsp. salt, and 1/2 tsp. pepper. Sprinkle the mixture over the salmon and let sit at room temperature for 30 minutes, or cover and refrigerate for up to 12 hours.

Prepare a two-zone fire on a gas or charcoal grill: On a gas grill, set two of the burners to high (one if your grill only has two burners) and leave one burner off. On a charcoal grill, push all of the lit coals to one side of the grill.

Set the cedar plank on the grill over the hot zone, cover the grill, and wait until the plank starts to smoke, 2 to 3 minutes. Meanwhile, rub the skinned sides of the salmon fillets with the oil. Slide the plank to the cooler zone and arrange the salmon on top, oiled side down and thicker ends closest to the hot zone. Cover the grill (vents open on a charcoal grill) and cook until the fish is almost cooked through with just a touch of pink in the center—make a nick with a paring knife in the thicker part of a fillet to check—or an instant-read thermometer inserted in a thick part registers 135°F, 10 to 14 minutes. Transfer the fish (still on the plank) to a serving platter and serve with the sauce.

And for some Carolina Shrimp & Cheddar grits, we turned to www.tasteofhome.com


  • 1 cup uncooked stone-ground grits
  • 1 large garlic clove, minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 4 cups water
  • 2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
  • 1/4 cup butter, cubed
  • 1 pound peeled and deveined cooked shrimp (31-40 per pound)
  • 2 medium tomatoes, seeded and finely chopped
  • 4 green onions, finely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
  • 4 teaspoons lemon juice
  • 2 to 3 teaspoons Cajun seasoning


  • 1. Place the first five ingredients in a 3-qt. slow cooker; stir to combine. Cook, covered, on high 2-1/2 to 3 hours or until water is absorbed and grits are tender, stirring every 45 minutes.
  • 2. Stir in cheese and butter until melted. Stir in remaining ingredients; cook, covered, on high 15-30 minutes or until heated through. Yield: 6 servings.



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