Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Shrimp and Grits

Grits is a southern thing. I never had them before and always thought it was a weird staple in Southern breakfasts. I did watch a Bobby Flay Throwdown episode where they did shrimp and grits and that sparked my interest in trying to make this classic Southern recipe for my Southern boy. So I hunted down a recipe that wasn't too involved and that had good reviews. Naturally, I went to Don't remember who I got this recipe off of, but it's a good one!

Shrimp and Grits

For the grits:
3 cups of milk
3 cups of heavy cream
1 cup stone-ground white cornmeal
2 Tb. unsalted butter
Salt & pepper

Place a 3-quart pot over medium-high heat. Add the milk and cream. Slowly whisk in the cornmeal. When the grits begin to bubble, turn the heat down to medium low and simmer, stirring frequently with a wooden spoon. Allow to cook for 10-15 minutes, until mixture is smooth and thick. It actually took me a lot longer than 15 minutes for the cornmeal to absorb all the liquid. Remove from heat and stir in the butter. Thin it out with a little extra cream if necessary. Salt & pepper.

For the shrimp:
2 Tb. extra virgin olive oil
1 medium white onion, minced - I omitted, but added a few shakes of onion powder with the garlic.
1 garlic clove, minced
1 lb. andouille or spicy Italian spicy sausage, cut in chunks
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
2 cups chicken stock
2-3 bay leaves
2 lb. large shrimp, peeled & deveined
Pinch cayenne pepper
Couple of shakes of Tabasco
1/2 lemon, juiced - I actually only did a few shakes from a lemon bottle.
Salt & pepper
2 Tb. finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
4 green onions, sliced

Place a deep skillet over medium heat and coat with olive oil. Add the onion and garlic; saute for 2 minutes to soften. Add the sausage and cook, stirring, until there is a fair amount of fat in the pan and the sausage is brown.

Sprinkle in the flour and stir with a wooden spoon to create a roux. Slowly pour in the chicken stock and continue to stir to avoid lumps. Toss in bay leaves.

When the liquid comes to a simmer, add the shrimp. Poach the shrimp in the stock for 2 to 3 minutes, until they are firm and pink and the gravy is smooth and thick. Add the cayenne pepper, Tabasco and lemon juice. Season with salt & pepper. Stir in the parsley & green onions.

Spoon grits into a serving bowl. Add the shrimp mixture and mix well. Don't serve the bay leaves! Serve immediately.

I added asparagus at Wes's request.

Let me begin by saying that this is not a diet-friendly meal! With the sausage and 3 cups of milk AND cream, it's a pretty rich meal. The grits are nice and creamy with a buttery flavor. You could probably halve the amount of grits, there was a lot left over, and possibly even adjust the ratio of milk and cream. I am also not sure of what kind of cornmeal I had, it was just some we had sitting in the pantry. There are different types of cornmeal ranging from coarse to really fine. Can't find stone-ground at the grocery store specifically? Just use whatever is there.

While the grits are all fine and good, the really tasty part of this dish was the shrimp, sausage and gravy! The cayenne and Tabasco really add a nice kick to this dish. I didn't make it that spicy and it actually had the perfect amount of kick at the end without overpowering. The sausage was just perfect and spicy. Scoop up a piece of shrimp, some gravy and a little bit of grits and it's a delicious, creamy, spicy mouthful.

Making the grits can be a bit challenging. And since mine took so long to come together, I waited to add the shrimp at the very last minute so they didn't overcook sitting there waiting for the grits. And that is perfectly fine. The heat of the gravy and pan with cook the shrimp and you'll come out with perfect shrimp!

The shrimp, sausage and gravy were still good the next day. However, I think the milk and cream in the grits didn't translate as well. They sort of had a bitter flavor from sitting in the fridge overnight. If you have left over shrimp and sausage, serve it over rice for the next meal instead.

If you're up for something different, give this recipe a try. The hardest part will be waiting for the grits to come together. But if you halve that part, it may not take as long!

Happy cooking!

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