Shrimp and Grits

Last night was book club Christmas dinner.  I signed up to bring a main dish.  Maybe not my best move on a day I was working out of town, but there you have it.  I think shrimp and grits is good for any occasion.  It’s fun in the summer; warm in the fall; and somehow holiday festive as well.  It also gave me an excuse to try a new recipe.  There are dozens of them out there and it seems like Emeril should know from shrimp and grits.

This is not an easy recipe, but it’s a good one.  I didn’t have any andouille so I substituted hot Italian sausage instead.  Not a bad substitution.  Next time I’ll remove the casings and cook it as ground sausage rather than trying to slice it.  I also only had enough cream for the grits so instead of cream I used milk with a little corn starch in it for the shrimp.  And one confession, I knew I wouldn’t have time to peel and devein enough shrimp to feed 11 people so I used frozen.  I think in this dish they worked okay.  Just be sure to get the peeled, raw shrimp.  And be sure to get them without tails.  I’ve never understood why someone would serve a shrimp dish that requires a fork to eat it and leave the tails on the shrimp.  It’s just rude.  But I digress.

It’s the grits in this dish that are really amazing.  It takes an hour to make them so they pretty much have to be amazing.  You’ll think that the liquid to grits proportion is way off, but stick with it.  It works.  The grits are very, very creamy without being paste-like.  Neat trick.  And be fairly liberal with the salt.  If you don’t get enough salt in the water you’ll never make them taste right.

I think it worked fine for book club to spoon out of a large dish, but generally I’d prefer to serve this in individual bowls.  Serve it with a fork and a spoon so you don’t miss a single morsel.

Good? Yep, this one’s a keeper.
Easy? Nope. My kitchen looks like a cyclone hit it.
Good for company? Definitely.
Special shopping? Andouille if you’re committed to using it.

Spicy Shrimp and Sausage Over Charleston-Style Grits

Ingredients

  • 2 pounds medium shimp, peeled and deveined
  • Essence (paprika, garlic powder, onion powder, salt, pepper)
  • Salt
  • 8 ounces hot Italian sausage
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 1 cup finely chopped yellow onion
  • 1 cup finely chopped red bell pepper
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic
  • 1 1/2 cups chicken broth, or canned, low-sodium chicken stock
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped green onions
  • 2 tablespoons minced parsley
  • Charleston-Style Grits, recipe follows

Directions

Season the shrimp with Essence and salt. Heat a large, heavy saute pan over medium-high heat and sear the sausage, cooking for about 3 minutes. Remove the sausage to a plate, and add the shrimp to the pan, and cook for 2 to 3 minutes. Remove the shrimp from the pan, and heat the oil. Add the onion and bell peppers and cook until soft, 3 minutes. Add 2 tablespoons Essence to the pan, stirring well, then add the garlic and cook 1 minute. Add the chicken broth to the pan and cook until reduced slightly, 5 minutes.

Stir the cream, green onions and parsley into the sauce and return the sausage and shrimp to the pan. Return sauce to a simmer and continue to cook until reduced slightly. Stir well and season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve over Charleston-Style Grits.

Charleston Style Grits:

  • 6 cups water
  • Salt to taste
  • 1 1/2 cups quick cooking or old-fashioned grits (not instant!)
  • 2 cups milk
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 8 tablespoons butter
  • Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

In a large, heavy sauce pan bring the water to a boil. Add a generous teaspoon of salt and the grits and stir with a wooden spoon to combine. When grits thicken add milk, cream and butter and return to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer, cover sauce pan and cook for 45 minutes to one hour, until grits are tender, smooth and creamy. Taste and season with salt and pepper. Keep covered and warm until ready to serve.

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