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Shrimp and Grits Recipe

Last weekend my dad was in town over night and Jeremy’s parents were still here from New York so I decided to make something special – Shrimp and Grits!  A quintessential New Orleans favorite, Shrimp and Grits is always a crowd pleaser and a special treat.  Below is my special recipe, inspired by the recipe for traditional Cajun Sauce Piquant.

Interestingly, Jeremy’s mom’s allergic to shrimp so I had to make this dish a bit differently than I might have otherwise.  I cooked the shrimp on the side and then just used them as a garnish in the end.  However, I did like doing it this way.  In the end, do what you prefer.  As long as the shrimp are not over-cooked, there’s no wrong way to do it.

Shrimp and Grits

Yield: 6 servings

Shrimp and Grits

Ingredients:

1/4 cup olive oil
1 cup diced tasso
1 yellow onion, diced
1 small bell pepper, diced
3 celery ribs, diced
3 tablespoons tomato paste
13 garlic cloves, minced
5 tomatoes, chopped
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1 cup thinly sliced green onions
2 1/2 cups thinly sliced button mushrooms
2 tablespoons lime juice
3 tablespoons lemon basil, chiffonade or lightly chopped
1 pound shrimp (preferably 31/35 count)
6 cups quick grits
4 ounces Neufchâtel cheese (can substitute Marscapone or cream cheese)
Kosher salt, to taste

Method:

Method – Sauce:

  1. Add the olive oil to a pot and heat over medium flame.
  2. Add the tasso and a pinch of salt and cook until rendered (about 3-5 minutes).
  3. Once tasso is rendered, add onion, bell pepper and celery to the pot; cook until the vegetables start to wilt – another 3-5 minutes.
  4. Then add in the tomato paste and 10 of the minced garlic cloves; stir very well and cook another couple minutes until the mixture is thoroughly heated through.
  5. Next add in the tomatoes and thyme; adjust seasoning to suit your tastes.
  6. Cook for 20 minutes covered, stirring occasionally.
  7. Remove from heat and mix in mushrooms, green onions and lime juice.
  8. Add grits to the bottom of a pasta bowl and ladle on the sauce; portion to your liking – in this case I used equal parts.
  9. Finish with a sprinkle of basil and shrimp for garnish.

Method – Grits:

  1. Basically, follow the package directions when cooking the grits.
  2. Once they are done, add in 4 ounces Neufchâtel cheese and salt to taste.
  3. Only start on the grits once the sauce is done – ideally you’d get the water to a boil for the grits, add them in and while they’re cooking you’re doing the shrimp below at the same time.

Method – Shrimp:

  1. Before you even start cooking, peel and de-vein the shrimp and rinse well.
  2. Pat them dry with paper towels and place in the fridge until you’re ready to cook them.
  3. Heat about 2 tablespoons olive oil in a wide skillet on medium high flame.
  4. Add the remaining minced garlic; sauté just till fragrant (about 1 minute).
  5. Add shrimp and a healthy pinch of salt.
  6. Cook on one side 2-3 minutes then flip and finish 1-2 minutes – depending on the flame, they could be done quicker; don’t overcook!
  7. Once they’re finished, use tongs to place the shrimp on top of the grits and sauce.
  • This makes at least 6 portions of sauce; depending on how you divvy out the shrimp, you may need more to use all the sauce – I did 8 shrimp for 4 portions and had leftover sauce.
  • This recipe is very loose and can be tweaked to your individual taste – if you don’t like something, change it; if you’d prefer to see something else in here, add it.
  • You can easily convert this recipe to pescetarian by leaving out the tasso – the other flavors are enough to keep this dish tasty. You may need more salt.
  • As always, use fresh Creole tomatoes when you can get them (in the deep south from late May to very early August only).
  • Reserve the shrimp shells for making a stock later – you can place them in a ziploc bag and freeze for a couple months; shrimp stock makes a great seafood gumbo base (see my recipe).

Prep:45 minutes

Cook:35 minutes

Total:1 hour, 20 minutes

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