Do you know what it means to miss New Orleans? I do.
I haven’t been back down to the Crescent City since 2007’s Jazz and Heritage Festival, but I keep tabs on what’s happening by tuning in to WWOZ online every day.
And I reconnect with the city periodically from a culinary perspective, such as this recipe for shrimp and grits.
Up north, grits aren’t as big a deal as they are down south. We prefer polenta, which is also made of corn meal, but usually has a slightly finer grind.
But unlike polenta, grits have the ability to jump from your breakfast bowl onto your dinner plate, where they can serve as a delicious anchor for almost any dish: Shrimp and gits, pork and grits, chicken and grits. If I ever were to open a Southern-style restaurant, I would simply call it “And Grits”.
Grits can be sweet or savory. This past Sunday I took my daughter, Maggie Mae, out to brunch at Stanley’s — a great bar/restaurant in Chicago’s Lincoln Park neighborhood near DePaul University, where she goes to school — and among their breakfast offerings were grits sweetened with honey. They were fabulous.
For this recipe, I made standard grits — with just water and little salt — then ramped them up at the end with butter and a ton of grated parmesan cheese. The result were creamy, nutty grits that perfectly complemented the strong flavors of the shrimp. Even my wife loved it, and she usually won’t eat shrimp.
I decorated the plate with a little braised green chard and some roasted corn-black bean salsa. It not only tasted great, but it looked pretty fantastic as well. I’ll have to save this one for the menu at “And Grits”.
Shrimp and Grits
1/2 lb 16/20 Shrimp, peeled and deveined
2 cloves Garlic, crushed
2 TBS Extra virgin olive oil
1 tsp Sesame oil
1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
1 tsp Pick-a-Peppa Sauce
Dash red pepper flake
Fresh cracked black pepper
6 TBS Grits (not instant)
2 cups Water
Dash sea salt
2 TBS Whole butter
1/4 cup Grated parmesan cheese
For the Roasted Corn-Black Bean Salsa
1 can Black beans, drained
2 ears Corn, shucked and boiled
3 Tomatoes, ribs and seed removed, small dice
1/4 cup Red onion, small dice
2 TBS Cilantro, chopped
2 TBS Parsley, chopped
2 Green onions, sliced thin
1 TBS EVOO
Fresh cracked black pepper
1. Combine shrimp, EVOO, sesame oil, Worcester and Pick-A-Peppa sauces, and red pepper flake in a mixing bowl, season to taste with black pepper, cover and place in refrigerator to marinate at least 30 minutes.
2. Place grits, water and salt in a small pot, cover, bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer and cook until thickened, about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Turn off heat and let sit at least 10 minutes, then fold in butter and parmesan cheese.
3. Roast corn cobs on the grill until they get a char, then cut the kernels off the cob and combine with all the remaining salsa ingredients. Season to taste with coarse salt and black pepper, cover and marinate in the refrigerator until ready to plate. Using coarse salt rather than sea salt gives the salsa a little crunch.
4. Saute shrimp with marinade in non-stick pan until cooked through, about 4 minutes. To plate, pile grits in the center of the plate and arrange shrimp decoratively on top of the grits. Spoon salsa so that it is falling off the shrimp and grits. Garnish if you want with a little braised greens.
Now that the Lenten season is ending, I have to decide whether to continue Seafood Fridays or not. Does anybody have an opinion? I would love to hear it. And thanks for looking at my blog!