Week Night Yum Yum: Shrimp n' Grits

Monday, October 10, 2011

No picture....because it was THAT good, no one could stop one second to let me take the picture. Everyone devoured this dish. So, you'll just have to make it and see!

I'm going to get some slack on this one for using par-cooked grits, but in my defense I plead: (1) pregnancy and (2) sickness so please forgive. However, the "instant grits" does make this a super easy week night meal. So there.

Shrimp n Grits...the class combination of creamy polenta-style hominy grits with sweet shrimp flavored with savory andouille sausage, the trinity, and garlic is a time-honored tradition in many southern households. Browsing through a recent edition of Bon Appetit, I found a recipe for shrimp n grits as a breakfast item. Indeed, with the addition of a fried egg on top, you can make this traditional supper dish into a brunch delight. The other day I felt like breakfast for dinner, and the combination of warm, comforting grits with spicy andouille and shrimp and topped off with a creamy fried egg just sounded divine. Just needed the rain to start up to finish the atmosphere, and so it did.

Here's my version, adding a bit more flavor with the addition of the trinity in the shrimp part of the dish and scallions and parsley on top for the perfect topping. The best part? Breaking the yolk into the creamy hot grits. This is the definition of comfort food folks. Enjoy it.

Shrimp n' Grits
for the shrimp:
1 small white onion, chopped small
1 large celery stalk, ends trimmed and chopped small
1/2 red bell pepper, chopped small
1 cup andouille sausage, chopped small
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 Tbsp vegetable oil + 2 Tbsp for eggs, divided
kosher salt
freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup chicken stock
4 large eggs
1 Tbsp chopped fresh parsley
1 Tbsp chopped fresh scallion

for the grits:
1 cup chicken stock
2 cups hominy grits (instant or par-cooked)
1 Tbsp good unsalted butter
1 cup grated cheddar cheese (orange or white is fine)
kosher salt
splash of heavy cream

Heat the 2 tablespoons of oil in a large saute pan. Add the andouille sausage and cook until browned and fat is rendered, about 5 minutes. Lower heat to low, and using a slotted spoon, take the sausage out and set aside (you'll put it back in later). Turn the heat back up to medium-high and add the onions, celery, and bell pepper all at once and season with salt and pepper to taste. Cook until tender, about 7-10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the garlic and shrimp and stir to combine. Add the broth and using a spoon, gently scrape up the "brown bits" on the bottom of the pan. Cook until the shrimp are firm and turn bright pink. Add the andouille back in, stir to combine, and sprinkle with some of the parsley and scallions (reserving some for garnish). Set aside.

To make the grits, heat the broth in a pot and bring to a simmer. Add the grits all at once, and using a whisk, stir to combine. Cook the grits about 15-20 minutes, stirring occasionally until creamy and golden and tender. Keep the lid on the grits when you're not stirring it, and make sure the flame is on low once you've added the grits. Once the desired texture of grit has been achieved, remove from heat. Add the butter, cheese, salt to taste, and a splash of cream and mix to combine. Serve piping hot.

*You can make the grits ahead of the shrimp or start them at the same time.

To fry the eggs, add the oil to another clean preferably non-stick pan. Crack the eggs (or do them one by one) into the oil and cook until the bottom is set. Use a spoon to gather the oil from the pan and throw it back onto the top of the egg to help cook the top a little if you dislike "runny" eggs; this is called "basting the egg." Cook until bottom is firm and set (you can flip them over too if you like them over-easy). Season the eggs with a small pinch of salt and pepper.

To plate, divide a portion of grits into deep bowls. Spoon the shrimp mixture on top of the grits. Add an egg to each dish, and garnish with a small sprinkling of parsley and scallion. Serve piping hot.

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