Mardi Gras anyone? Fat Tuesday is tomorrow! Even if this festive holiday isn’t in your standard rotation, you can get in the spirit with some traditional NoLa fare.
One of my family’s favorite Southern dishes is Shrimp and Grits. I’ve got an amazingly flavorful rendition, streamlined to make it quick and straightforward for the home cook. You need to cook the grits for about 40 minutes, stirring occasionally, but very little is active time. While they’re bubbling away, you can get the shrimp and sausage prepped and ready, which will take only 10 or so minutes to cook.
Every time I make grits I’m reminded of the movie “My Cousin Vinny.” There is a scene where a witness tells Joe Pesci’s character, “No self-respecting southerner makes instant grits.” Indeed! It’s worth it to use good quality corn grits here, not the instant kind. That said, I’ve got a little trick to cut down on the cooking time… you can soak them the night before if you like. I’ve given basic instructions for cooking them (without presoaking), but it’s a good idea to check the package for specific instructions. Grits come in different grinds, and cooking time can vary depending on the type that you have. Laissez les bon temps rouler!!! (“Let the good times roll!!!”)
Shrimp & Sausage Cheddar Grits
- 1 cup corn grits
- 3 cups water
- 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter diveded use
- 1-2 teaspoons kosher salt divided use
- Freshly cracked black pepper
- 2 andouille sausages, fresh not cooked about 6 ounces total
- ¾ pound large wild shrimp peeled and deveined
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 cloves garlic minced
- ½ teaspoon smoked paprika
- Juice from ½ lemon
- ¼ cup chopped Italian parsley
- Combine the water and grits in a medium saucepan. Place over medium-high heat and whisk constantly until the starches thicken and it begins to bubble, so as to avoid lumps. This will take about 10 minutes. Once they are thick and gently simmering, turn the heat to low and place a lid on top to help with splatters, leaving it slightly ajar to allow steam to release. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 30-40 minutes on low heat. When the grits are soft and creamy, add the butter and a half teaspoon of salt and freshly cracked black pepper to taste. Taste and add more salt if needed. Take off the heat and stir in the cheese. Cover with the lid and leave while you cook the shrimp and sausage.
- In a medium skillet, warm the olive oil. Squeeze the sausage meat out of the casing and into balls about the size of walnuts (it's ok if they are not all uniform). Cook in the skillet, stirring and shaking the pan, until cooked through. Add the shrimp, garlic and paprika, and ½ teaspoon salt. Cook until the shrimp are pink, then stir in the butter. After the butter is melted, remove from the heat and squeeze the lemon juice over top.
- To serve, scoop the grits onto a large serving platter, or individual bowls. Top with the shrimp and sausage mixture, and sprinkle with the parsley.