living in the south has changed the way i look at food, completely. one thing i wish i could love the most, out of every meal i have ever enjoyed, was a classic shrimp and grits dish. and regardless of all the versions i have tried, it never quite created a level of excitement within me that said: “whoa, that’s some pretty life changing shrimp and grits right there..”
the grits are too gritty, too dry, too runny, and the sauce? the hell is that? well, guess what. i decided, i would make my own version and what i like is what it should be (for me, anyway) and I could possibly scratch shrimp and grits off on my food bucket list.
and guess what, i bet $2.5 Billion monopoly dollars and 75 cents that his is hands down the best shrimp and grits recipe you will ever find, ever.
i cook grits as described on the box, but rather than water i use milk, which i believe is common if you want creamy and delicious tasting grits. i also cook them patiently on low heat. i would rather take my time and swell the grains slowly, than rush the process and come out with grits that have hard gritty pieces lingering along ..
i created a shrimp broth by simmering the hulls from the shrimp, a stalk of celery, 1/4th of an onion, two cloves of garlic and salt in water for an hour or so. straining with a mesh strainer and letting it rest overnight. using natural shrimp broth will intensify the flavor to something you can do nothing but appreciate.
i served this with buttermilk biscuits – not necessary but undeniably delicious.
chop a clove of garlic, a stalk of celery, 1/4th of a red bell pepper and 1/4th of an onion. in a cast iron skillet, melt one tablespoon of butter on medium heat and add vegetables. once you have sautéed the veggies for about five minutes, fold in the ham, turning the heat higher by just a few notches. it will be safe to do so, because the heat will allow juices to come out of the ham preventing the veggies from burning further.
once your ham starts to get that beautiful grilled look to it, and the edges begin to caramelize, fold in your shrimp. continue to fold the shrimp so they do not stick to the skillet, but caramelize into a beautifully pink and golden color. remove the skillet, placing your shrimp and veggies in a bowl and set aside.
without cleaning the skillet, unless you have some pieces that may have burned, add three tablespoons of butter into the cast iron skillet. if you notice that there are some burned pieces of anything in the skillet, remove them from the skillet and return it to the stove.
with three tablespoons of butter melting into the skillet, add three tablespoons of all purpose flour and stir until a roux forms. stir your shrimp stock and slowly add one tablespoon at a time to the roux, to slowly break the roux up.
add 1 teaspoon of tomato paste and a pinch of salt, slowly mixing in the tomato paste to the roux. once they have all broken up easily, pour in 1/2 cup of shrimp broth and bring to a low simmer until the sauce reaches a thick consistency.
once you have mixed your shrimp broth well into the roux and tomato paste mixture, return your shrimp, ham and sautéed vegetables to the skillet and fold gently. spoon over a generous serving of grits and savor all that greatness.
you can thank me later. 😉
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