As you know, I am mildly obsessed with all things shrimp and grits so I wanted to share a recipe with you. I made this dish for the first time when we were visiting Kelly & Bill, then again when Steven and I celebrated our 19th wedding anniversary a couple of days ago. This time we documented the making of our celebratory dinner. I'll spare you a lengthy blog post and get right to the good stuff, but I did add a few notes at the end. Enjoy!
For the Shrimp
- 4 slices of bacon
- 8 oz. sliced mushrooms
- 4 green onions, sliced, white & green parts
- 1-2 cloves garlic, chopped
- 1 -2 lbs. shrimp, peeled and deveined
- Juice of 1/2 of a lemon
- Salt & Pepper to taste
For the Grits
- 2 cups Chicken stock
- 2 cups cream, half & half and/or whole milk
- 1 cup stone ground grits
- 1 tsp. salt
- 1 cup freshly grated Gruyere cheese
For the Red-eye Gravy
- 3 Tbsp. drippings from ham or bacon
- 1/2 cup of brewed coffee
- 1/2 cup Chicken stock
- 2 Tbsp. softened butter
- 1/2 tsp. sugar
Chop and slice the onions, mushrooms and garlic. Set aside.
In a 12" skillet, fry bacon until crisp. Set aside. Remove and reserve excess bacon grease leaving just enough to lightly cover the bottom of the pan.
Add mushrooms, stirring to coat. Add salt to taste. Turn heat to high, watching carefully. When mushrooms are nicely browned turn down the heat and add onions and garlic. Sautee mixture until softened and moist. Pour into bowl. Chop bacon and add to veggies, set aside.
In a heavy pan (I use my enameled Le Creuset Dutch oven) add the Chicken stock and dairy combo, heat on medium, but do not boil. Add salt.
When it's too hot to stick your pinky in there, it's ready. Sloooooowly pour in the grits, stirring constantly. When the grits are incorporated into the liquid, or about 5 minutes, turn down the heat to low. Keep stirring. Don't let them stick to the bottom, which they will do the second you walk away.
When grits thicken and become tender, 20 minutes or so, take them off the heat.
Add Gruyere cheese, stir to incorporate. Put a lid on the pot to keep it warm, then set aside.
In a skillet or sauce pan, pour about 3 tablespoons of the reserved bacon grease and heat. Add the brewed coffee and stir. Let reduce for about 3-5 minutes to thicken. Add Chicken stock. Stir and let reduce by half. Add butter and whisk to incorporate. Finally, add sugar. Stir and pour into another container.
In a clean skillet, add butter. When bubbly, add shrimp. Quickly brown on both sides, just a couple of minutes each, then add lemon juice. Stir in onion and mushroom mixture and heat through.
Spoon grits into individual serving bowls. Add shrimp and veggies. Spoon just a couple of tablespoons of Red-eye gravy around the outer part of the bowl. Enjoy!
There really aren't any fancy or unusual ingredients in this recipe, except really good grits can be hard to find depending on where you live. But please, whatever you do, don't buy Instant Grits. They are awful. Log onto Amazon and get yourself some good grits!
Even when you get good stone ground grits, don't ever cook them according to the package. Mostly the directions say "just add water" and you might as well cut up a cardboard box and eat it and it might taste better.
Seriously, grits are very bland and it's up to the cook to add flavor and water just won't cut it. The upside to that is you can get very creative and add whatever flavor profiles you like. And that includes cheese! Lots of recipes call for cheddar but it's not my favorite. If it's yours, try it! (But not in my recipe. Try mine first, then experiment.)
As for the quantity of shrimp, it depends on the size you buy. The shrimp I use are 16-20, so extra large and I use five per person. If yours are smaller, use more.
Regarding Red-eye gravy, it is not a thick gravy really, it's more like an Au Jus. And this recipe won't make much but you don't need a lot. On its own, it can taste kind of bitter (so the sugar is necessary) but once it's added to the grits, oh my goodness! It is so good. Some recipes call for Coca-Cola instead of coffee but I am not fond of the sweetness.
Finally, if something here doesn't make sense, let me know and I'll clarify as needed.