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Shrimp and Grits

February 19, 2010

by Elizabeth

A few weeks ago I was in New Orleans for work. The first night I was there by myself, and since I wasn’t too into the idea of hitting up Bourbon Street alone, clearly my main priority was eating somewhere fabulous. After spending approximately 4 hours researching options, I settled on John Besh’s Lüke Restaurant – it had an excellent chef, was near my hotel, not terribly expensive, and most importantly had a welcoming bar I could perch at and not feel like a bozo having dinner alone. I had the shrimp “en cocotte”, which was really shrimp and grits.  And it was to die for. Perfect balance of flavors, hearty and satisfying but not overly rich, just divine.

So when we decided to have an impromptu Mardi Gras dinner party last Saturday, I was determined to serve John Besh’s shrimp and grits. Or maybe I found his recipe and then was determined to convince husband that we NEEDED to have a Mardi Gras dinner party on Saturday…details. Either way, it was a success. I think the shrimp and grits was almost as good as I had in New Orleans. And if you do all the prep work and make the grits ahead of time, it really only takes 15 minutes or so at the stove, which for me is a perfectly acceptable amount of time to spend in the kitchen when you have guests.

Shrimp and Grits

adapted from My New Orleans by John Besh,
serves 6

For the Grits:

1 teaspoon salt

1 cup white stone-ground grits

2 tablespoons butter

½ cup mascarpone cheese

1 cup shredded gouda cheese

For the Shrimp:

2 tablespoons olive oil
36 jumbo Louisiana or other wild American shrimp
Creole seasoning (I used Tony Chachere’s)
1/3 cup andouille sausage
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 shallot, minced
2 piquillo peppers (roasted red Spanish peppers in a jar)
1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme leaves
2 cups Basic Shrimp Stock (*see note)
2 tablespoons butter
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
2 cups canned diced tomatoes
1 tablespoon chopped fresh chives

Cook the grits with the appropriate amount of water, per your brand’s instructions. When they are cooked, stir in the butter and mascarpone, then the gouda. Turn heat to low and place a piece of plastic wrap directly on the surface of the grits in the pot to keep a crust from forming.

Peel the shrimp, leaving the tails intact. Toss with a tablespoon or two of creole seasonings. Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over moderate heat. Sauté the shrimp until they begin to brown but are not cooked all the way through, turning once. Remove the shrimp as they cook and set aside. Meanwhile, if you are using raw andouille, boil a pot of water and cook the andouille for approximately 10 minutes. It’s ok if it’s not cooked through, it will finish later. You just want to be able to dice it without it crumbling.

In the same skillet you cooked the shrimp in, sauté the andouille, garlic, shallots, piquillo peppers, and thyme until they become aromatic, about 5 minutes. Add the Shrimp Stock and bring to a simmer. Stir in the butter and reduce the sauce until it’s nice and thick, 3-5 minutes.

Return the shrimp to the skillet and cook for an additional 5 minutes. Add the lemon juice, diced tomatoes, and chives. Let this cook and reduce for a few minutes.

Spoon a heaping ¼ cup of the grits into the center of each of 6 large bowls. Arrange 6 shrimp in the middle of each bowl of grits, spooning extra sauce into the bowls.

*making your own stock is ideal – I used this reduced shellfish stock from Central Market with good results. Although when I mixed it up, husband almost gagged due to hazing flashbacks. I’m not sure fish or seafood stock from the carton would taste the same.

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