Shrimp and grits… A traditional southern dish. As a self-proclaimed southerner, you would imagine I would say something like, “I’ve been making shrimp and grits for as long as I can remember.” Instead, I am letting you know this was a first for me. I am a 27-year-old shrimp and grits virgin. S&G v-card.
I’m from the Tennessee, you see (smart girl’s a rhymer). I have a Southern accent and big hair and say things like “bless your heart” when I really mean “go to hell.” See? I’m Southern.
Well, not really.
It pains me to say, but I was born way north of the Mason Dixon in Indiana. I moved to Tennessee when I was in high school, right in the moment of youth where acceptance was essential. I would have adopted the accent of Elmer Fudd or Sid the Sloth if I thought it would help me fit in. Instead, I picked up some pompoms and started with the “yes ma’am,” “no, sir,” “hey, y’alls.” And it stuck.
So a few weeks ago, I was having a particularly shitty day. I decided I was going to make some comfort food. Comfort food always makes it better. And cooking in general is like a happy pill for the soul. Along with Harry Potter, but that’s neither here nor there.
I had bookmarked a recipe for shrimp and grits in a cook book of mine, “A New Turn in the South.” I ventured to the grocery store with my list of ingredients and was stumped with gritty ignorance when I got to “hominy grits.” I could only find the instant grits at this store. I thought to myself… “I better go to Whole Foods. They’ll have it. It’s a specialty grit.”
I walked into the national largest Whole Foods store in Boulder and meandered through the flower sections. Ooooo Wehrly loves flowers. Shitty day = Buy flowers for one’s self day. I grabbed not one, but two bunches of sunflowers and lillies and continue on into the store looking like My Fair Lady. “Flowas? Fa me? I do declare Mister Bulregard.”
Taking my arm full of flowers, I got to the bulk foods section and was already feeling happier. I grabbed a plastic baggie and situated myself to have a free hand to scoop some grits. First scoop was successful. Things got tricky, though, as I was balancing my purse, two bundles of flowers, a swinging plastic baggie of one scoop of grits and my scooper. I went to put another scoop in the bag, over shot, and completely missed the bag. Grits all over the floor. Imagine my face, eyebrows raised like, “did that really just happen?” So embarrassing. I finally found a whole foods worker and have never been more self conscious of the southern accent. Aw, southern flower girl done made a mess with the grits. How cliche.
The whole time I was thinking, this recipe better be damn good. Luckily it was, and here it is 🙂
- 3/4 t kosher salt
- 3/4 C hominy grits
- 2 C broth
- 1 C water
- 4 T butter
- 1/2 C yellow onion, chopped
- 2 celery sticks, chopped
- 1/2 lb. andouille sausage cut into 1/4 inch slices
- 1-2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1/2 C roasted red peppers, chopped
- 2 plum tomatoes, seeded and chopped
- 1 t Old Bay, or a creole seasoning of your liking
- 1/4 t red pepper flakes
- 1/2 C tomato juice
- 1 T tomato paste
- 1/2 cup broth
- 1 lb. peeled and deveined shrimp
- 1/2 T fresh thyme
- 2 T fresh flat leaf parsley
- 1 T lemon juice
In a small to medium sized pot, combine 2 C broth, 1C water, 1/2 t salt and the grits. Place on high heat while stirring with a whisk. When you get to a boil, reduce to simmer and place the lid on the pot. Stir the grits every 5 minutes or so for an hour. Then, stir in 2 T of the butter. Grits are done.
In a large-ish pan, melt a tablespoon of the butter and stir in onion, celery and the sausage. Cook for 5 minutes or so, then add the garlic, red peppers, tomatoes, creole seasoning and red pepper flakes. Cook for 5 minutes more, then add the tomato juice, tomato paste and broth. Stir well and reduce the liquid for 3-4 minutes.
Season the shrimp with the remaining 1/4 t of salt and add to the pan. Cook the shrimp until they are no longer translucent. Add the remaining T of butter, thyme, parsley and lemon juice. Stir until incorporated.
To serve, place some grits on the bottom of the plate, then spoon the shrimp concoction over the grits. This recipe makes about 4 servings, so ration appropriately. Serve Southernly and enjoy.