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Thursday, July 19, 2012

Unforgettable Southern Shrimp and Grits!

I started making shrimp and grits after trying them at Richmond's undisputed soul food restaurant king, Croakers Spot.   After trying my new favorite version at Lunch, Richmond's new restauarant serving up Southern homestyle food with a twist, I figured that it was time to bring the old summer favorite.  Since Croakers Spot, I have made shrimp and grits at home a number of different ways--with gravy, with beer sauce, with tomato sauce, etc.  This particular version has a great summer twist from the incorporation of deliciously tangy green garden tomatoes.  If you don't have green tomatoes, just use red, but just know that the green makes it even more special with its delicious sweet yet tangy flavor.  My shrimp and grits has a  flavorful sauce with chunks of beautiful bright green and red, juicy, fresh tomatoes along with diced onion.  The light freshness of the shrimp and veggies combined with the creaminess of the grits, without the gross, heavy feeling of some restaurant grits.  This dish is fresh, nutritious, and bursting with flavor.  It's sure to be your next family favorite!

*If you like leftovers or have a larger, double this recipe.  It is just enough for 3 or 4 people.

1lb shrimp, peeled and deveined
1/4 c coarsely chopped onion
4 large tomatoes, in 1-1.5" chunks, preferably half green or mostly green
4 cloves of garlic + 2 cloves for marinating the shrimp
1 green onion, sliced
1/2 a light-colored beer (Corona, Coors, etc)
1 TB chopped fresh parsley
a small pinch of thyme

1c of grits (old fashioned, NOT quick cooking or instant)
2c of chicken broth (I didn't have any, so I used water and 1 pack of Goya bouillon)
1-1/2c milk (skim is just fine, that is what I used)
1-1/2c water + about 1/2c or so extra in case the grits thicken too much during cooking
1 TB secret ingrdient (don't worry, it's still great without it, but I'll keep this one a secret)
*Bear in mind that I don't actually measure the dry seasonings, add it until it's good :P*
1/2 tsp paprika
1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
1/4 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp onion powder
salt and pepper to taste (salt generously because grits tend to suck up flavor)
1/2c shredded cheddar cheese

1. Place peeled, deveined, and rinsed shrimp into a medium size bowl.  Sprinkle a generous amount of salt (much more than you would season them with) over all over shrimp.  Toss the shrimp in the salt with your hands in a slight rubbing motion until they begin to foam slightly.  Once you begin seeing small foaming or bubbles, this takes 2-3 minutes, rinse the shrimp again.

2. Once rinsed, allow the shrimp to marinade in a little salt, two cloves of minced garlic and the sliced green onion.  Be sure to wipe off the marinade before cooking to avoid burning the seasoning.  Simply add the remaining marinade when it is time to add the green onion.

3. Prepare the grits according to the instructions, except be sure to remove the lid and whisk the grits for a minute about 3 or 4 times during the process to create creamier, smoother grits.  Be sure to add in the seasoning after initially whisking the grits into the boiling liquid.  If the grits get thick, add a little water here and there.  I probably added an extra half a cup of liquid by the end.

4. Once the grits are done, stir in the cheddar and continue cooking 1-2 minutes to incorporate the cheese.

5..Sautee the onions in a pan over medium low heat in a generous amount of oil, about 2TB or so.

6.. Once the onions are transparent, but not yet softened, add in the green tomatoes, if you are using them.  If you have red, do not add them yet.  Add garlic and stir occasionally.

7. Meanwhile, in a pan over high heat that has been lightly oiled, sautee shrimp for 1-2 minutes on each side. Do not overcook!  Once cooked, set aside.

8. Once the onions are almost completely softened, add in the red tomatoes and thyme. Sautee for one minute or so.  Add the green onion.

9. Increase the heat to medium and add in the beer.  Continue sauteeing until the beer has cooked off.  Be sure to adjust salt and pepper as needed at this point.

10. Add the shrimp to the sauce and sautee for a minute or two.

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