|A Decadent Shrimp Mix on Creamy Grits|
Every cook should have at least one signature dish in her repertoire that can be whipped up quickly with whatever is on hand, impress at the dinner table, and instill self-confidence and pride. Though I never thought my own signature dish would turn out to be shrimp and grits, I cooked it often enough over a short period of time and with varying ingredients on hand, that I quickly decided to improvise until I arrived at my latest masterpiece. So good is this rendition, I think it’s worth sharing.
For those living outside of the Deep South or never having visited, grits might seem formidable, not only to make well, but as a side dish worthy of any breakfast–or, dinner plate. Truthfully, making good grits requires patience, plenty of milk or cream, and lots and lots of butter. I can make a pretty good batch of grits, but I’ll never make them quite as good as my sister-in-law who lives in Georgia and is fearless when it comes to adding the butter. But, I digress.
My latest and thus far, best version of this Southern classic, is fortified with oven roasted cherry tomatoes and spicy Cajun-style Chorizo, along with the classic ingredients of shrimp, garlic, butter, parsley, and white Vermouth. It pairs perfectly with a glass of red wine and warm slices of French bread for wiping up any juices that manage to get past the grits.
Mel’s Shrimp and Grits
1 lb. large shrimp; deveined and sliced in half lengthwise, so you have two identical halves
1/3 pound Chorizo, casing removed
1 pint Cherry Tomatoes; roasted
2 cloves of garlic, finely minced
3 T Yellow onion, finely minced
1/2 cup of Parsley; chopped
Fresh Ground Pepper
1 T Olive oil
2 T Unsalted butter
Crystal’s Hot Sauce
1. Heat a well-seasoned cast iron skillet over medium until just warmed and then add the olive oil.
2. Once the oil is hot, add the garlic and onion and cook until the onion is golden and translucent.
3. Add the Chorizo and cook, breaking the sausage apart, until no longer pink.
4. Push the sausage, onion, and garlic mixture to the outer part of the skillet and add the butter to the center.
5. Once the butter melts and begins to bubble, add in the shrimp and cook until no longer pink; season with lots of fresh ground pepper.
6. Add the roasted cherry tomatoes, a few shakes of Crystal’s Hot Sauce, Worcestershire Sauce, and enough Vermouth to loosen the mixture; toss in the parsley and cook until warm.
7. Serve hot over grits with a glass of wine and bread for sopping up the juices.
Use your favorite brand if you live in or near the ‘Grit Belt’. If not, I like Albers Enriched Hominy Quick Grits, but instead of water use a mix of heavy whipping cream (1/3) and whole milk (2/3), with a good dose of butter and lots of ground pepper. I like to add a few shakes of Crystal’s Hot Sauce to the milk while it heats. To prevent lumps, stir the grits into the milk continuously while adding, and then beat out any lumps.