|Shrimp and Cheese Grits|
The actual term, soul food, wasn’t even part of our culinary lexicon until the 1960s when the Civil Rights Movement took center stage. While the term has become synonymous with both the style and seasoning of food in the African-American community, there really is no clear distinction between soul food, Southern food and Country food. For me, while all these monikers describe the same food, soul food is the food that hits you way down deep in your belly and makes you not only feel alive, but grateful to be alive and eating whatever is on your plate.
Grits make me feel alive. Grits make me feel like jumping into the air and kicking my heels. And, when you mix cheese into the grits and top them with spoonfuls of fat shrimp in a spicy tomato and butter sauce, my soul sings.
Shrimp and grits is an easy dish to make and is just as good for a Sunday brunch as it is for a relaxed dinner with a glass of wine and a piece of crusty bread. Get out your frying pan, put a pot of grits on and sauté your way to a soulful dinner.
Shrimp and Cheese Grits
1 pound medium shrimp, peeled and deveined
1/2 small onion, finely minced
2 stalks of celery with leaves, finely minced
2 tablespoons finely minced green bell pepper
1 toe of garlic, peeled and finely minced
6 tablespoons of butter
2 tablespoons of tomato paste
2 medium tomatoes, peeled, seeded and finely chopped
1 bay leaf
white wine or white vermouth
Crystal’s Hot Sauce™
Grits, prepared according to package directions with 4 tablespoons of butter and 1 cup of finely grated sharp white cheddar cheese stirred in at the end.
1. Melt the 2 tablespoons of butter in the frying pan.
2. Add the onion, celery, green pepper and garlic and cook until vegetables are soft; remove from pan and set aside.
3. Add the another 2 tablespoons of butter to the pan and heat until butter is foamy and just beginning to brown.
4. Add the shrimp and cook until shrimp turn pink.
5. Add the chopped tomatoes and cook for one minute.
6. Add the tomato paste.
7. Return the vegetables to the pan.
8. Add enough dry white wine or vermouth to thin the ‘gravy’ just enough to loosen it, but not to make it watery.
9. Add the bay leaf and season with seasoning salt, cayenne and hot sauce to taste.
10. Cook until the liquid slightly reduces—3-4 minutes—then reduce heat and stir in the last 2 tablespoons of butter.
11. Spoon grits into shallow bowls and top with shrimp.
12. Serve with crusty bread.