ABOUT THE RECIPE
When it comes to talking about Southern and comfort food it’s impossible to not mention Shrimp & Grits. Grits - a porridge made from boiled cornmeal, is a staple dish for a lot of Southern recipes and it’s also one of the first true Native American foods. It is so popular and it has been cooked for so many centuries that when referring to the Southern - East States and cuisine people often use the term “Grits Belt”. Grits are really similar to the Italian Polenta which, on the contrary, is really popular in Northern Italy, and it’s often served with meat and melted cheese, during winter season.
Grits with the addition of the shrimps are widely served in Georgia and South Carolina, where (according to Culture trip) in 1976 the State declared the dish its official state food, as a “symbol of its diet, its customs and its humor”. The recipe became well known all across the US after the 80s, when the New York Times food critic Craig Claiborne was so impressed with the flavor and its simplicity to mention Shrimp & Grits in its articles and its food books.
An interesting tip if you’re a grits lover: according to the Southern chef Sean Brock soaking the grits overnight before cooking will make them taste creamier and cook faster.
FOR THE GRITS
¾ cup grits
¼ teaspoon salt
6 ounces Cheddar cheese, grated
3 tablespoons butter
FOR THE SHRIMPS
4 tablespoons butter
¾ cup chopped onion
½ cup chopped green bell pepper
2 gloves garlic, minced
1 cup diced ripe tomatoes with a little of their juice (chopped canned tomatoes are preferable to fresh tomatoes)
½ teaspoon dried thyme
1 tablespoon flour
1 pound medium to large raw shrimp, shelled (reserve shells for stock)
½ to 1 cup shrimp stock*
1 tablespoon tomato paste
⅓ cup heavy cream
2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
2 dashes Tabasco
Salt to taste
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
A NOTE ON MEASUREMENTS
We work with chefs from all around the world, which is why we include both imperial (cups/ounces) and metric (grams) measurements. To achieve best results, we highly recommend that you utilize a kitchen scale and follow the metric measurements when possible.
FOR THE STOCK
Before you start you need to prepare the shrimp stock: combine shrimp shells and 2 cups water and boil until the liquid is reduced by half. Strain and set aside.
FOR THE GRITS
In a saucepan add 3 ½ cups water, bring it to a boil and stir in the grits. Reduce the heat to low, cover and cook for 15 to 20 minutes, until the grits are tender and the water has been absorbed. Remove from heat, add the salt, cheese and butter and stir until melted. Keep the grits warm.
FOR THE SHRIMPS
In a large skillet add the butter and let it melt, sauté the onion, pepper and garlic until softened, for about 3 minutes. Add the tomatoes with their juice and thyme; bring to a simmer. Cook for nother 2 or 3 minutes. Sprinkle with flour and stir well.
Add the shrimp and stir constantly until they turn pink, about 2 minutes. Add ½ cup stock and cook for 2 to 3 minutes more. Add the tomato paste and stir until blended. Add the cream, Worcestershire and Tabasco sauce, and more stock if needed (you will need to make a spoonable sauce that generously covers the shrimp). Heat thoroughly, being careful not to let it come to a boil. Taste and adjust for salt if needed.
Place a portion of grits in the center of each plate and spoon shrimp over or around it. Sprinkle with parsley.
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