Despite my city girl ways, I am truly a Southern belle at heart. Both sides of my family are deeply rooted in the South and so Southern culture has always been a major part of my life. It’s only natural that my favorite aspect of that culture would be the food! And one of my favorite Southern dishes is shrimp & grits.
I’ve noticed that it’s one of those “trendy” dishes that many restaurants, regardless of their focus, like to offer just because of how popular it is. And with that said, I must also say I’ve had some pretty lackluster shrimp & grits experiences lately. It’s one of those recipes that’s really simple to make and doesn’t take a lot of fuss but in order to capture that robust flavor, you have to know what you’re doing! Now I’m not saying I’m a shrimp & grits expert or anything, but I guess I’ll share my recipe with you all and let you decide! :0)
**a little note before we get started: contrary to popular belief, shrimp & grits is not traditionally a cajun/New Orleans dish. It is indeed “low country” from the coast of South Carolina**
What you need:
1/2 lb shrimp
1/4 lb sliced andouille sausage
4 strips bacon
1/2 cup flour
1/2 yellow onion
1/2 green bell pepper
1/3 cup diced celery
2 cups chicken stock
1 bay leaf
Before you get started, peel & de-vein your shrimp. Season with your favorite spices/herbs. I prefer the ones pictures above: garlic powder, cayenne, celery salt & thyme. Place the shrimp in the fridge while you prepare your “stock”.
The first step to making your “stock” is to create your roux. The roux is going to be the base for this recipe. Begin by heating up a skillet and cooking the 4 strips of bacon. Once the bacon has cooked down remove it from the skillet but leave the renderings. Add your flour and stir. Allow the flour to brown; the deeper the color, the deeper the flavor. After a couple minutes, add in the diced onion, bell pepper & celery(the holy trinity as I like to call it) and continue to stir.
Allow the veggies to soften a little before slowly pouring in your 2 cups of chicken stock. Remember to stir while adding in the stock because as you will notice, the mixture will quickly begin to thicken and stirring will prevent chunks from forming. If the mixture looks too thick, add in a little more stock but be sure to only add in a little at a time.
Once you’ve achieved the desired consistency, add the sliced andouille sausage. Since the andouille is already smoked, you don’t have to worry about waiting for it to cook; however, you do want to allow enough time to let the flavors of the sausage meld with your stock. At this point, you will also want to add in your bay leaf.
After a couple minutes, it’s finally time to add the shrimp! As you prepare to toss those babies in, I would suggest you go ahead and get the grits started(recipe to follow). Grits literally take no more than a few minutes to cook and so do shrimp. This way both components will finish up around the same time. Allow the shrimp to cook a few minutes, until they are pink and have begun to curl up.
For the grits:
1/4 cup grits(instant or regular)
1 cup milk
1 tbsp butter
dash of salt
Pour the milk into a small saucepan(a friend of mine taught me a couple years back that milk is the key to creamy grits). Add in the butter and the dash of salt. Allow the butter to melt and the milk to come to a slow rolling boil. Slowly add in the grits, making sure to stir continuously to prevent clumping. Instant grits should only take between 3-5 minutes.
Once your grits are finished, you are now ready to plate your meal!
Next time you’re looking for a recipe that will satisfy & impress you and your dinner guests, think of my shrimp & grits. Trust me, you won’t regret it!