Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Shrimp & Grits

I was born and raised in central California where barbecue is spelled BBQ and means anything cooked outside on a gas or charcoal grill; where seafood means fish from the ocean; and where there are restaurants that serve nothing but soup and salad.

But, I have lived in the south since 1993. I've tasted a lot of southern cooking, from barbecue to crawfish to fried catfish, and refused to taste some, boiled chitterlings ("chitlins" for the uninitiated) being one of those. I have never been able to convince myself that anything that looks like this in it's raw state...

...could taste good if it looks like this in it's cooked state...

But this post is not about chitlins. It's about shrimp and grits. Even after sixteen years residence in the Natural State, I had never had shrimp and grits.

A couple of weeks ago, my son, Mike, posted an entry on his Myspace that said he was going to make Tyler Florence's Shrimp and Grits. Now, since Mike has an almost neurotic aversion to anything remotely southern, I knew this dish had to be phenomenal for him to make it. Shrimp and Grits must be awesome if Mikey likes it.

And, wouldn't you know it, after I saw Mike's entry, there was a Shrimp and Grits challenge on an episode of Throwdown with Bobby Flay. I printed all three recipes: Tyler Florence, Bobby Flay and BF's challenger, Joe Barnett. In the end, I chose Joe Barnett's recipe because I just liked all the components and I wasn't disappointed. This was one of the best dishes I've ever made....really!!

I followed the recipe almost exactly, except for these few things:

  • No Wild Georgia Shrimp where I live. I used Thai shrimp instead.

  • The grits recipe calls for a tablespoon of tomato paste. I left that out.

  • I had some leftover spiral cut ham in the freezer and used that instead of the sugar-cured country ham.

Shrimp and Grits
by Joe Barnett via the Foodnetwork.com

1-1/2 pounds (26-30 count) Wild Georgia Shrimp
2 tablespoons Cajun seasoning (recommend Tone's Louisiana Cajun seasoning)
1 tablespoon paprika
1 tablespoon dried Italian seasoning
Freshly ground black pepper

2 cups water
2 chicken bouillon cubes (recommend Knorr)
2 tablespoons butter or margarine
1 cup quick grits (recommend Quaker)
1 tablespoon tomato paste
3/4 cup heavy whipping cream
3-1/2 ounces extra-sharp Cheddar cheese

2 tablespoon butter or margarine
1 tablespoon minced garlic
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 cup chicken stock
1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1/2 teaspoon hot sauce (recommend Texas Pete)
1 slice sugar-cured country ham

First, peel and devein the shrimp. In a small bowl, combine Cajun seasoning, paprika, Italian seasoning and salt and pepper, to taste. Sprinkle the spice mixture over the shrimp to coat well and set the shrimp aside.

Next, make your grits. In a medium saucepan, bring water, chicken bouillon cubes and 2 tablespoons butter to a boil. Slowly add the grits, whisking often with wire whisk for 5 minutes. Add tomato paste, cream, and cheese. Keep whisking for another 2 or 3 minutes until the grits become creamy. Don't skimp on the butter and the cream, folks.

Now saute the shrimp. In a large saute pan, melt 2 tablespoons of butter. Add minced garlic and stir for 30 seconds. Add in the spice-coated shrimp, and cook only until they're just done and tender. Don't overcook. Remove the shrimp from the saute pan and set them aside in a bowl. You can taste 1 or 2, to see if they're okay.

The roux is next. With all those wonderful drippings from the shrimp in the saute pan, add 3 tablespoons of all-purpose flour and stir with a wooden spatula to make a roux. Cook for 10 to 15 minutes until roux reaches a medium-tan color, then slowly add the chicken stock and heavy whipping cream. Whisk together and cook for 2 minutes, then whisk in Worcestershire sauce and hot sauce. Set aside.

And last, a little country ham. Cook 1 center slice of cured country ham in a saute pan, and cut into cubes.

To serve, and this is the best part...place a few heaping spoonfuls of steaming cheese grits onto a plate...

...top with several sizzling shrimp...

...Drizzle that wonderful roux sauce over top of the shrimp, and sprinkle on a few cubes of country ham...


After dinner, Tom packed up all the leftovers carefully in separate containers and the following night we had leftovers for dinner. Tom had Ceviche and chips. My sister, Karen, had tacos from two night before and I had the leftover Shrimp and Grits. I opted for warming the grits in a pan and mixing the shrimp, ham and roux gravy together in another small frying pan. It was just as good, although not as pretty...

Mmmmmm. I can't wait to make this again!


Bunny said...

All though my hubby has never had grits he thinks he doesn't like them ( he thinks) don't you just love that! This looks so good, if you say it's good I know it's good! Could you serve this over rice too??

Bellini Valli said...

This is Southern cooking at its best:D

Terri said...

Bunny: Sure you could serve this over rice. My husband, Tom, suggested orzo pasta with a little cheese mixed in, too.

Val: You are so right! This dish had so many flavor components that came together for amazing flavor!

Alison said...

funny Terri...I was thinking of shrimp & grits the other day! I ate them for the first time in Charleston when I got married and wanted to re-create the recipe later. Found a great recipe and don't you know I've since lost it. I'll have to give these a try...they look yummy!

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