Chef Cooper Pierre Pryer started his culinary career when he stumbled upon the Iron Horse Grill in Jackson, Mississippi, while working at a truck stop. Intrigued, he applied for a job there, and decided to enlist in the U.S. Army around the same time. However, just before being sworn in, he received a call from the Iron Horse and joined the restaurant team, marking the start of a 12-year stint.
In 1999, a devastating fire almost led to its demise, but 17 years later, Pryer got an opportunity to rebuild and revitalize the iconic restaurant. Pryer emphasized the resilience of the people of Mississippi and their ability to overcome adversity. He takes pride in representing Jackson and Mississippi and encourages fellow Mississippians to cherish their hometown and state. His commitment to his community was acknowledged when he was recognized for employing individuals from his neighborhood and he was awarded the title “Hometown Hero” by his city, a certificate he proudly displays on his office wall.
The Iron Horse Grill offers a unique twist on classic Southern dishes like shrimp and grits which he will share at Mississippi Chef Jam during the 2023 Atlanta Food & Wine Festival. The restaurant is an integral part of Jackson’s community. Pryer’s journey reflects his dedication to preserving Mississippi’s culinary traditions while adding his unique touch to the cuisine.
5 tablespoons butter
3 ounces diced green bell peppers
3 ounces diced celery
3 ounces diced onion
3 ounces chopped green onions
1 tablespoon chopped garlic
2 cups heavy cream
1 teaspoon dried thyme
½ tablespoons Tony Chachere’s creole seasoning
1 teaspoons Louisiana brand hot sauce
1 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
9.6 ounces peeled crawfish tails
1 tablespoon chicken base
2 cups chicken broth
1 cup whole milk
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
1½ cups yellow stone-ground grits
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
Salt and pepper to taste
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
8 ounces (21-25) peeled deveined shrimp (tail on optional)
2 teaspoons chopped garlic
1 teaspoon Tony Chachere’s creole seasoning
4 cherry tomatoes, halved
1 tablespoon lemon juice
Lemon wedges and green onions for garnish
For the crawfish Julie sauce:
For the grits:
For the shrimp:
- Make the crawfish Julie sauce: Melt butter in a large stockpot on medium heat. Add all vegetables and aromatics and cover, stirring occasionally till soft, 5 to 7 minutes.
- Add cream, thyme, creole seasoning, hot sauce, and Worcestershire sauce and cook till reduced by ⅓. Add crawfish and chicken base and cook 5 minutes more.
- Make the grits: In a large stock pot add broth, milk, and butter and bring to a boil. Add grits, turn down heat to a simmer, and stir constantly until grits are done, about 30 minutes. Add cheese; season with salt and pepper.
- Make the shrimp: In a large skillet melt butter. Add shrimp and sauté 3 to 4 minutes. Add garlic, creole seasoning, tomatoes, and lemon juice, sautéing 4 more minutes till shrimp are done and tomatoes soft.
- To serve: Pour shrimp mixture over grits and top with crawfish Julie sauce. Garnish with lemon wedges and green onions.
Recipe ByPierre Pryer Sr. of Iron Horse Grill in Jackson, Mississippi