Thursday, December 24, 2009

Shrimp and grits

Shrimp and grits is an endlessly versatile dish. Have it for breakfast, have it for dinner. Make it with sausage, make it with cheese, the only ingredients that remain the same are the shrimp and the grits. I recommend fresh (never frozen) shrimp and real grits, not the quick kind.

Start with bacon or some type of smoked sausage/pork (andouille, tasso, alligator, I've even used leftover country ham) or at the very least some bacon fat.  Add part of a chopped onion and some garlic; when that's cooked down, deglaze with some white wine. You can add tomatoes, green onions, green beans, mushrooms, or any combination of the above. Add a little butter just at the end, along with the shrimp, and cook just until the shrimp are done. Serve immediately over the cooked grits (or cheese grits!).

Another way to do it is to start with a roux. Melt three tablespoons of butter in a large skillet; then whisk in two tablespoons flour and cook over medium heat, whisking constantly, until the flour is a light caramel color (about six minutes). This is a blond roux. Add onion, bell pepper and celery, cooking 8-10 minutes until tender, and then add sausage. Add a little chicken broth, bring to a light boil, reduce to medium, and simmer 8-10 minutes until slightly thickened. At the end, add the shrimp and some heavy cream. This version doesn't have the tomatoes, but is much thicker and creamier.

Don't forget to serve with hot sauce!

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