Monday, November 14, 2016

Shrimp and Grits

One lesson in cooking school was focaccia. As the demonstration proceeded, one student, from Italy, said aloud, "That's not focaccia; that's not how my mother makes it."

Shrimp and grits is another dish for which multiple "right ways" exist. I have eaten versions with only shrimp and andouille. Other versions had gravy and bacon as well. I have read recipes that include the cajun trinity of onion, celery, and sweet pepper.

The version I will feature here is a "wrong" version. I like to make shrimp and grits with polenta as it has even more flavor.


1 cup dry polenta
3 cups chicken or vegetable stock, divided
1 cup half and half
additional water as needed
16 31-40 count peeled shrimp 
2/3 cup shredded cheese (gruyere, cheddar, asiago)
1 link andouille sausage, sliced in 1/4 inch rings
2 slices bacon, cross sliced in 1/4 inch strips
1 clove garlic, minced or pressed
large pinch salt plus pepper to taste
2 tablespoons olive oil or butter
2 tablespoons flour
chives, minced

Method - Meats and Gravy

Put 1 Tablespoon of olive oil in a cold non-stick medium skillet. Add the bacon pieces in a single layer and cook the bacon slowly over a medium low heat. When crispy and brown, remove to a paper towel covered plate and put in a low warming drawer.

Pour some of the fat out of the skillet and add the andouille. Fry to brown on both sides of the sausage rings. Put them on a separate paper towel covered plate and place in the warming drawer.

Pour off most of the fat, leaving about a Tablespoon. Saute the shrimp until barely opaque (about three minutes, and place on a third small plate for the warming drawer.

Add enough olive oil to bring what is in the pan to about 2 Tablespoons. Add 2 Tablespoons of flour and slowly cook the roux to light pecan color. Add a splash of dry white wine and 1 cup of stock and bring to a boil. Your goal should be a light, silky gravy. If necessary add additional water.

Method - Polenta

Bring 2 cups of stock and 1 cup of half and half just to a boil in a 5 or 6 quart sauce pan. Use a spoon to start the liquid swirling around the pan and keep it going. Slowly add the polenta and salt. After the polenta is incorporated, reduce the heat and simmer 25 to 35 minutes, stirring with a wooden spoon every 2 or 3 minutes. Be sure you use the spoon to clean the bottom of the pan, even in the corners. 
After 10 minutes, add the sausage. If the polenta becomes thick, thin with added water to a loose porridge stage. Taste to assure the polenta has reached a creamy soft stage. 

Add the cheese and continue to stir to melt the cheese. Taste and adjust the salt. pepper, and thickness.

Serve the polenta with sausage and cheese to bowls. Divide the shrimp among the bowls. Top with the bacon pieces. Layer the shrimp on top of the polenta mixture. Pour the gravy over the bowl contents and garnish with snipped chives.


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