Shrimp & Grits

Posted on 02/25/2010. Filed under: Dinner |

This past summer I went on vacation to Charleston, SC and to Savannah, GA.  I really enjoyed both cities but as beautiful as Savannah is, I had a better time in Charleston (one being better food that we ate, the other being my then-fiance hadn’t gone bat-shit crazy yet…he waited until Georgia).  I have loved low country cooking for a while, but it was the shrimp & grits at The Crab Shack on Folly Beach in South Carolina that made me a complete convert.  The grits were creamy, the sauce heavenly decadent, the shrimp plump and juicy.  Even on a hot day I loved their shrimp & grits.  I didn’t even mind that the garnish was diced raw tomatoes.

I decided to try my hand at the dish.  But here’s the problem with living in Richmond and cooking a dish that is pretty region-specific.  Not just to the South, but primarily the Tidewater region of South Carolina.  The grits selection here is pretty limited to Quick or Instant.  Sigh….Quick will have to do.  I found a recipe from Tyler Florence on the Food Network site (which I rarely visit), and thought it looked good.  It involves SAUSAGE!  Already, Tyler had won me over on this recipe.  (To the ladies, isn’t Tyler gorgeous?  Mmmmm, Tyler…)

I went to Whole Foods to get my shrimp (a trusted, albeit expensive as hell, source) and andouille.  I can’t help it!  Whole Foods’ andouille is awesome!  Spicy and delicious.  I’d frozen the meats as I got them on Sunday and knew I wouldn’t be making the dish until Tuesday or Wednesday.  Turns out I was occupied Tuesday so I made it tonight, on a cold, rainy Wednesday night.  Before I left the house to run a friend to a car dealership, I thawed the shrimp in warm water and a colander, set the sausage out to thaw on the counter while I was gone.  When I got home this afternoon I’d forgotten to thaw chicken stock, so I pulled out a container I had (four cups, which worked out perfectly as I needed two for the grits and two for the shrimp sauce), put it in a saucepan and melted it out.  I diced a medium white onion and a clove of ELEPHANT garlic, sliced the still kinda frozen andouille (which was the way to slice it without it falling apart). 

Here’s the thing about freshly-made sausage: either freeze it a little before slicing or cook whole then slice.  Otherwise it’ll fall apart.  It didn’t matter with the gumbo, but I wanted slices for this dish.  Mmmm, fatty porky goodness.

I cooked the quick grits in chicken stock, removed from heat and added a cup of heavy cream.  It looked a little runny so I added more grits.  I should have left it a little runny because my timing was off and the shrimp wasn’t nearly done when the grits were (stupid Quaker Quick Grits).  I added half a stick of butter, fresh ground black pepper and a pinch of Kosher salt, as the butter was already salted and I didn’t want to overdo the saltiness of the grits.  By the time my sauce and shrimp were done I had a pot of gummy grits.  Damn.

As for the sauce, I heated some extra virgin olive oil in a pot and softened the onion and garlic for about five minutes, stirring frequently.  I then added the andouille and browned.  When the sausage was done I added a couple tablespoons of flour to make a roux, and when the flour had thickened the fat, I added the remaining two cups of stock (this makes meal two from the chicken stock made from one chicken.  Economics, y’all!).  I stirred in the stock, added two pounds of deveined and peeled shrimp (tails on), and two bay leaves.  I added a pinch of salt and some freshly ground paper. Towards the end of cooking, after the shrimp were done, I added a bunch of cut-on-the-bias green onion. I also added a few dashes of Tabasco for the hell of it.  (Tyler says to add two tablespoons of minced fresh parsley but damn, Tyler, the shrimp was expensive enough and I wasn’t going to buy a whole bunch of parsley for two tablespoons.  Sorry dude.)

My friend Dan came over for dinner and I served the dish in bowls, grits first topped with delicious sauce, shrimp and sausage.  Dan brought five-cheese garlic bread and we dug in.  Mom’s not a fan of grits but bless her, she gave it the old college try.  She was in quite a bit of pain (ongoing knee issues that will probably lead to a replacement any time soon) so she went to bed early after a few bites.  I think she said it was tasty, but I think she’d like it better if the shrimp were served over rice.  It’s a texture thing with her and I get it.  For me, this was so hearty, so comforting, just spicy enough thanks to the andouille, just rib-sticking goodness.  The sauce was creamy without being heavy.  The shrimp were cooked perfectly.  Sausage had a hell of a kick.  The only thing that could have made this dish better was better-quality grits.  Dan gave it a thumbs-up and a half.  I would totally make this again with better grits.

Bon appetit, y’all!


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2 Responses to “Shrimp & Grits”

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It was wonderful and thank you for trying all these new dishes.

It was delicious.

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