Sarah’s Shrimp and Grits
I love food! I love to cook; I can’t yell it loud enough. When it comes to food or cooking, I am in my happy place. I am always finding ways to remake or tweak a favorite recipe. One of my husband’s favorite meals and a way to his heart is the good Southern staple of shrimp and grits.
Now we all know there are a gazillion shrimp and grit recipes out there. Each one has its own variations. You can have them cheesy, spicy, creamy… well you get the idea. Personally, I like to incorporate a little of it all! Cheesy grits, and a nice spicy red eye gravy with a touch of cream.
Don’t stop reading now I want to share Sarahs Shrimp and Grits with my foodies so that you can bring out your own culinary side.
I first start off with one of the essential ingredients of this dish, shrimp. I purchase fresh large local shrimp from my favorite seafood store, Coastal Seafood in Leland. I am then off to the store to gather the remaining ingredients. For this recipe you will need grits, shredded Parmesan and sharp cheddar cheese (if you can find a nice smoked cheddar I highly recommend it), Andouille sausage (smoked is fine if you prefer), a bold and spicy Cajun seasoning (check your local options or even better yet make your own), a strong dark roasted coffee, low sodium chicken broth, Worcestershire, hot sauce (Texas Pete is my choice), half and half cream, red and green onions, garlic, and a rich stout beer (check our local breweries for a stout).
I didn’t overwhelm you, did I? Don’t back out on me now, trust me this Southern classic dish is worth the time and work.
I start with the preparation of my shrimp, making sure to peel and de-vein. I then toss the shrimp in some high quality extra virgin olive oil adding a liberal amount of my Cajun seasoning, a few pepper flakes, and fresh cracked black pepper. Now is the time to get my cast iron pan piping hot (a grill works too). Layer each shrimp into the pan, flipping it after about 30 seconds. The key is to not to overcook your shrimp as it will still have a little time in the end to cook up in our warm spicy red eye sauce.
Now making Sarahs Shrimp and Grits does require little multi-tasking. After we set aside our partially cooked shrimp, it is time to start working on my cheesy grits. In a pot, add milk only and a couple slabs of butter (come on folks, I didn’t say this was low fat!) Once again, I like to go for spicy shrimp and grits, so I made sure to add a little cracked pepper to the grit and milk mix. Once your grits are complete, add a healthy handful of shredded Parmesan and shredded sharp or smoked cheddar cheese.
Now it’s time to move on to the big flavor! Chop a whole large red onion and 5-6 cloves of garlic, drizzle your pan with olive oil and sauté away, with your sliced Andouille sausage. Ahh… the fragrant aroma will fill the house and will also guarantee to keep the vampires away.
Once tender, it’s time again to add a liberal amount of your favorite Cajun seasoning (Just a hint: the key to your Cajun seasoning is not buying a mix that is made up primarily of salt, you want the flavors of the peppers, oregano and a little salt), ¼ cup of STRONG coffee (we are talking jet fuel), ¼ cup Worcestershire, couple dashes of hot sauce, ¼ cup stout beer and 2 cups of chicken broth. Let this cook for a bit so that it reduces about a 1/3.
Once your sauce has reduced, its time to add ½ cup of half and half cream. You can always add a little more depending on how creamy you want the sauce. Let it simmer for 10-15 more minutes. I know during this last part of the process it’s going to be tough to keep your spoon out of the sauce; personally, I myself think taste-testing is a must… as long as you are not double-dipping in the middle of tasting.
Now is the time to add your seasoned, partially-cooked shrimp, letting it cook for 1-2 more minutes. Make sure you don’t add the shrimp until the very end as you don’t want your shrimp to taste like rubber (after all, the shrimp is what this dish is all about).
Now that we have everything incorporated it’s time to plate up! Layer your cheesy grits onto a plate and top with the shrimp, sausage, and creamed red eye gravy. My husband personally likes his grits covered in a little extra sauce. I then top the dish with chopped green onions and cracked black pepper.
You are now all set to eat a seafood chef-quality dish right in the comfort of your own home. Enjoy, and happy eating my friends!
If you want to head out to sample the Port City’s offerings, you can start with our list of the best shrimp and grits in Wilmington.
Contributing blogger: Sarah Koob is a foodie, home cook, and lover of seafood, Bloody Marys, and is always up for any kind of food adventure.