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Chris Amirault

eG Cook-Off 55: Shrimp & Grits

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1. BadRabbit, are you speaking of the Hot & Hot Fish Club in Birmingham, Ala.? They have a cookbook? Please tell me where I can acquire same, ASAP! Love that place!

2. Polenta will work just fine. You can take some regular coarse ground cornmeal and make the equivalent of polenta/grits. Perhaps it is a different strain of corn, but the major difference is the grind -- grits are coarser than polenta, which are coarser than cornmeal, which is coarser than masa harina.

3. Grits sources: Two good ones which ship nationally Delta Grind, of Water Valley, MS -- http://www.deltagrind.com/contact.html -- and War Eagle Mill in War Eagle, Arkansas -- http://www.wareaglemill.com/khxc/index.php?app=ccp0&ns=catshow&ref=CerealsWholeGrains&sid=bn03knw03339v3282c808pz769zblj34 (a five-pound bag for $7.95).

4. The grits for shrimp and grits should be made with half-and-half whole milk and water, and plenty of kosher salt, finished with butter and cheese. I prefer smoked Gouda, myself, but your mileage may vary. I also like to let my grits cool and form into a nice solid mass, which I then slice and fry to get a nice crispy grit-cake outside with a creamy inside.

5. Shrimp to go over the grits are of two basic categories: The creamy sauce, and the non-creamy sauce. Neither is preferable to the other; it's what you're in the notion for and what your pantry accommodates on a given night.

Non-creamy shrimp-and involves sauteeing whatever aromatics you choose -- I don't do the trinity because, well, I don't like celery and I don't like bell pepper. I usually saute onion and garlic and occasionally diced carrots. I'll add some white wine, let it cook down, finish off with chicken broth and whatever seasonings I'm in the mood for, poach the shrimp in that, reduce until it's as thick as I want it, and go. In the alternative, I will brown andouille or tasso or even bacon, use the rendered fat to saute the onion and garlic, and add coffee and water for a good old red-eye gravy (if you wrap the shrimp in bacon and broil them, you then have Mr. B's Bistro shrimp and grits, which are marvelous).

Creamy shrimp and grits starts out the same way, adds some tomato paste to the aromatics, then the wine (can be either white or red) (I have used Marsala when it was at hand), and seasonings, including Pick-A-Peppa sauce, which is critical to a good sauce, and finished off with a healthy pouring of heavy cream which is never brought to the boil stage. Shrimp go in when the wine does, and cook in the base for the sauce.

You can also, as I did in this dish, repurpose cooked cocktail shrimp that were left over from a reception the night before; just put them in the sauce when you're heating it back up after you've added the cream. All you want to do is bring them to sauce temperature.

001.JPG

Garnish with some chopped scallions, and enjoy!


Edited by kayb (log)

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Yes, Kayb. I live in B'ham so that's the Hot & Hot of which I speak. I bought mine at Barnes & Noble. It's a really well done book that's set up in two month chapters so that everything is seasonal. Highly recommend.

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I've never made Shrimp and Grits. Don't know why because I've always thought it looked and sounded like a delicious dish. Regarding the shrimp, does it matter what size of shrimp you use? For the shrimp and grits cooks out there, do you notice a difference in the dish in terms of texture or flavor if you use small shrimp as opposed to the more larger sizes? Finally, is it acceptable to grill the shrimp on an outdoor barbecue grill to get some char on them before combining them with the grits?

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I've never made Shrimp and Grits. Don't know why because I've always thought it looked and sounded like a delicious dish. Regarding the shrimp, does it matter what size of shrimp you use? For the shrimp and grits cooks out there, do you notice a difference in the dish in terms of texture or flavor if you use small shrimp as opposed to the more larger sizes? Finally, is it acceptable to grill the shrimp on an outdoor barbecue grill to get some char on them before combining them with the grits?

The great thing about shrimp and grits is that it is a fairly flexible combination and almost any variation will come out pretty tasty.

In terms of size I usually use 25-30 shrimp which seems to work well, but I'm not sure different sizes would make too big of a difference. I think any shrimp size between 20-30 would work well. I've never tried grilling the shrimp for shrimp and grits, but why not. The only potential drawback is the smokiness of grilled shrimp may overpower the mildly sweet and nutty flavor of the grits. I think I'll try grilling the next time I make shrimp and grits!

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Finding the two basic ingredients here is proving a not only a challenge, but is providing some interesting insight to Danish food culture: For example, shrimp are almost exclusively eaten on sandwiches here, so the larger ones are difficult to find.

Since making anything even remotely authentic is not going to be possible until I get back to NYC, I've decided to use the concept of shrimp and grits as a point of departure for composing a Nordic-inspired version, using small shrimp, and traditional/indigenous rye or buckwheat.

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This may seem horribly like missing the point, but is there any acceptable, perhaps even common substitute for grits?

I'm having no luck finding them, here... none at all.

No polenta? Cream of Corn? What grains can you get?

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. . . .

No polenta? Cream of Corn? What grains can you get?

The cornmeal I've seen about, whether for polenta or anything else, is quite fine; grain selections are restricted to 'what everyone buys' and 'hip now, entirely forgotten in two years'. So I can find quinoa (a novelty here, surprisingly), and various forms of buckwheat and rye (traditional), but that's pretty much it. I've also just discovered a further obstacle in my boyfriend's lack of unenthusiasm for any grain that is in pieces smaller than rice (or anything 'squishy'), which put paid to last night's intended use of quinoa. Yeah... we had shrimp and rice. But I haven't given up yet.

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I've never made Shrimp and Grits. Don't know why because I've always thought it looked and sounded like a delicious dish. Regarding the shrimp, does it matter what size of shrimp you use? For the shrimp and grits cooks out there, do you notice a difference in the dish in terms of texture or flavor if you use small shrimp as opposed to the more larger sizes? Finally, is it acceptable to grill the shrimp on an outdoor barbecue grill to get some char on them before combining them with the grits?

No, size doesn't really matter; I often use medium. It's just a pain to peel anything smaller than 31-40s.

Yes, it's absolutely acceptable to grill the shrimp and then put them over the grits, and pour your sauce of choice over all.

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I loosely follow the Hominy Grill recipe which is pretty much the same as catdaddy's except the shrimp are lightly tossed in flour.

Hominy Grill's Shrimp & Grits Recipe via Southern Living

Butch Stelhing(sp), Hominy Grill's proprietor, was my boss back in NC so it is no surprise he uses the same recipe.


Edited by catdaddy (log)

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More photos please! I've always wondered what grits looked like...you have no idea how exotic this dish sounds to me.

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Finally got a chance to upload the photo of the shrimp & grits I made earlier in the week.

I SVed some shelled Maine shrimp for a bit then poured off the juice into the shell stock I made; then I added some onions, celery, carrot, and jalapeño to the stock to enrich it. Turns out those vegetables were very tasty even after the stock was strained again, so I kept them for the dish.

Made the grits with the shrimp stock, and added some parmigiano reggiano and smoked monterey jack cheese just before serving. Served the shrimp & grits with a 65C egg for each bowl, some bacon bits (a bit too dark, in fact), slivered fresh jalapeños, the vegetable mix, and scallions:

DSC00005.JPG

It was a big hit for the kid and the wife alike -- a rare feat, let me tell you.

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Very tasty it was, but it was too crowded, in the end, I think: a bit less shrimp & grits and more bibimbap.... :wink:

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So, what's the difference between grits & polenta?

They are generally made from different strains of corn and polenta is generally a little finer grind (though still relatively coarse). Some grits are also made from hominy while I don't think you ever see polenta made from lye soaked kernels.

Though yellow grits are widely available now, they are not the norm while most (all?) polenta is yellow.

I wanted to know the same thing. Do all grits have to come from "nixtimal" (hominy) to be considered grits, or are hominy grits a variant/variety on grits? Is one or the other considered more common than the other? Is this a regional thing? Really trying to understand this better.

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So, what's the difference between grits & polenta?

They are generally made from different strains of corn and polenta is generally a little finer grind (though still relatively coarse). Some grits are also made from hominy while I don't think you ever see polenta made from lye soaked kernels.

Though yellow grits are widely available now, they are not the norm while most (all?) polenta is yellow.

I wanted to know the same thing. Do all grits have to come from "nixtimal" (hominy) to be considered grits, or are hominy grits a variant/variety on grits? Is one or the other considered more common than the other? Is this a regional thing? Really trying to understand this better.

Most modern grits are just ground corn with the germ removed. Very few are hominy anymore. Unless you have an artisan mill nearby, it's unlikely you've had hominy grits.

Oh and since everyone else mentioned Thomas Keller using their favorite grits... Daniel Boulud uses mine :raz:.

http://www.oakviewfarms.com/Meet-our-Chefs-C18.aspx


Edited by BadRabbit (log)

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I'm trying to find an actaul recipe for shrimp and grits.  I have not tried to make it before.  I would like to sous vide the shrimp and use the juices and the shrimp shells to make the stock for the grits.  There were a few links in this thread but they don't work.  I can get shrimp here from the Gulf of Mexico, which I prefer to the Asian varieties.

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Posted (edited)

Probably putting my foot in my mouth but holy heck shrimp cooks in less than 5 minutes - why sous vide? Maybe reboil the shells for a stock.  Grits are pretty much corn porridge - if you're feeling special maybe go for Anson Mills or Bob's - recipe on the bag/boxFlavorings as you like. It is comfort food, not "fancy". 


Edited by heidih (log)

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Someone upthread had cooked their shrimp soups vide so I figured why not?  Maybe that way  I won't overcook them.  We in the great white north don't cook a lot of shrimp and grits which is why I was hoping someone might share their recipe.

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I've recently taken to SVing shrimp. I had thought it was over doing it, but I became convinced after a restaurant dish.

 

The pros are..its quick IIRC <15 min.... that you can do a zillion shrimp and they all are perfectly done...you can do flavoring eg poached in butter with pimenton and sherry vinegar.  For me, its better than frying or boiling

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6 hours ago, ElsieD said:

I'm trying to find an actaul recipe for shrimp and grits.  I have not tried to make it before.  I would like to sous vide the shrimp and use the juices and the shrimp shells to make the stock for the grits.  There were a few links in this thread but they don't work.  I can get shrimp here from the Gulf of Mexico, which I prefer to the Asian varieties.

This one right here. Hands down. I've eaten shrimp and grits all over the South, and these are The Best I've Ever Had.

 

Clickety

 

That said, they call the sauce "red-eye gravy." It is not. No matter. It's so good you'll want to drink it.

 

I do use a little less sugar.

 

 

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13 hours ago, kayb said:

This one right here. Hands down. I've eaten shrimp and grits all over the South, and these are The Best I've Ever Had.

 

Clickety

 

That said, they call the sauce "red-eye gravy." It is not. No matter. It's so good you'll want to drink it.

 

I do use a little less sugar.

 

 

I agree that there's a lot of sugar in that Mr B's recipe. That would make it very different from most shrimp and grits, which tend to rely more on tangy tomato based sauce, although a case could be made for adding a bit of cream to a winter sauce. I also question the bacon wrapping. Since shrimp cooks so quickly it seems like there would be no way to get the bacon cooked, let alone crisp, without the end result being very rubbery overcooked shrimp, and overcooked shrimp is the bane of any shrimp and grits recipe. I like using butter to cook the shrimp, but if you want bacon flavor why not just fry up the bacon, then cook the shrimp in bacon fat, adding back in the crumbled bacon to the sauce toward the end? And I certainly agree with Heidi that cooking shrimp sous vide seems counter-productive, but admittedly I know zero about sous vide anything. In the time it takes to get out your equipment you could cook the shrimp in a skillet in about 3 minutes. Then you could use the same skillet, without washing it, to make the sauce.

 

Shrimp and grits is one of the most flexible meals on earth; there are a million recipes out there. When it is made in the summer with lovely ripe tomatoes (my favorite!) it is lighter and zippier than when made in winter with canned tomatoes, which would be a richer, longer cooked sauce. For sauce, winter or summer, shrimp and grits can benefit from the addition of shrimp stock, which is just summering the heads and shells for 20 minutes. I often omit this in summer, when I have great tomatoes and barely cook them. I like to simply saute the shrimp with paprika and other cajun or creole spices in butter, removing them when they are just done, then adding them back to whatever the sauce is at the very end.

 

Some cooks are relentless when it comes to adding cheese to grits. Sometimes I like moderately cheesy grits, but not for shrimp and grits. I eat a lot of grits. My best advice is to buy the freshest stone ground grits, which typically means mail ordering them unless you live in the South. there is a thread somewhere with recommendations for various suppliers of artisanal grits, and to my taste buds it's worth it.

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You have to use  the very cheapest, thin bacon, or par-cook it and then wrap the shrimp. I also generally just fry in the bacon fat. And I do a significantly lighter treatment of grits than the heart-attack-inducing Mr. B's recipe with all the heavy cream and mascarpone cheese and such. Light cream cheese and whole milk serves just fine.

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