Shrimp and Grits
I love Shrimp and Grits. I love it even more with Butter Poached Shrimp!
When visiting a new restaurant with Shrimp and Grits on the menu, I will try it and forever judge the restaurant based on how well this dish is prepared. There are probably as many ways to make this iconic dish as there are southern cooks stirring pots in the kitchen. The four components that remain constant are shrimp, grits, butter and bacon. The rest is up for interpretation by the person making this delightful dish.
Let’s start with the Grits.
Instant grits are pre-made and dehydrated. Skip these, not worth the dollars spent. If your from the north, similar texture as instant cream of wheat, also known as, white glue.
Quick grits are ground smaller to make them cook faster, not a “bad” alternative. While “slightly more convenient, what’s another 15 minutes to make the Mack daddy of grits?
Stone-ground grits, in my opinion, are hands down, worth the extra few minutes it takes to do this dish right. Stone- ground grits are made from the whole kernel, therefore more nutritious. Keep these grits stored in the freezer to keep them fresh and to prevent them from becoming rancid.
White vs. Yellow Grits
Made from two different types of corn. Yellow grits have a tendency to be sweeter and white grits tend to be more delicate in flavor. A shrimp and grits purist would only use white grits. Both taste great, you be the judge!
I buy wild caught, 16-20 per pound, shrimp. Knowing these are more expensive, however, worth the extra few dollars. If you can wait for a sale on shrimp to buy, it makes this dish more affordable.
Butter Poaching, Yumm!
Recently, I discovered a new cooking technique, poaching in butter. I read about this method in Mark Ruhlman’s, Twenty. (I will be reviewing this book in a later blog post, stay tuned)
Cut 1 lb of cold butter into 1/4 inch slices. Bring two tablespoons of water to the boiling point in a small sauce pan. Quickly whisk butter, 1-2 pats at a time until all the butter is melted. Keep warm until ready to use. Do not let mixture come to a boil.
This method is called beurre monté and can be used to cook all delicate shellfish and can be used as a baste for meat, just add a few herbs and season. The amount of beurre monté can easily be adjusted to your specific needs. Just remember, a small amount of water and butter whisked in slowly to emulsify.
Shrimp and Grits Guidelines/Recipe
1 cup stone ground white grits
2 cups chicken stock
1 1/2 cups water
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 1/2 cups shredded smoked cheddar cheese
3 tablespoons butter
Salt to taste
Bring chicken stock, water, and cream to a boil. Slowly whisk in grits. Turn down the heat. Stir grits occasionally for the next 30 minutes. Grits can be held at this point at a very low temperature for several hours. Add more water if grits get too thick. Keep in mind, grits can always be cooked longer to get rid of any excess moisture.
Remove from heat and add butter and cheese, stir until combined. Salt to taste.
4-6 slices thick cut bacon, diced
1 1/2 lbs shrimp, 16-20 shrimp per pound, shelled and deviened
1 cup butter, cut inot 1/4 inch pats
2 cloves garlic, minced
handful of chopped parsley
juice from 1 lemon
While the grits are cooking prepare the bacon, cooking until desired crispiness is achieved. Remove from pan, set pan aside allowing rendered fat to cool.
Prepare beurre monté. Bring 2 tablespoons of water to a boil in a saucepan just large large enough to hold the shrimp, whisk in 1 -2 pats of butter at a time until all of the butter is melted. Keep warm.
Add the cleaned shrimp, cook for 3-4 minutes or until done.
Heat rendered bacon fat with the garlic, cook until garlic is aromatic. Then toss the cooked shrimp and chopped parsley in with the garlic. Add enough of the beurre monté to make a creamy sauce. Add the lemon juice and you’re ready to plate.
Scoop desired amount of grits onto four plates, divide shrimp mixture, garnish with cooked bacon, finish with cracked black pepper and serve immediately.