We’re Cooking: Shrimp and “Grits”

We had our Italian chef/film maker friend over the other night for dinner.  He has just returned home to Dallas after a 6 week shoot in Sicily and New York on his new film.  In honor of him returning to the good ‘ole “south” I wanted to make him a home-style, country meal.  We had intended to get some brisket and burnt ends from Pecan Lodge at The Farmer’s Market, but unfortunately found that they are closed on Monday; so Southern Style Shrimp and Grits seemed just as tasty as barbeque…but then I couldn’t find traditional white grits….so quick cooking polenta had to do (which, as it turned out, made our guest very happy because it felt a little like home bringing both his Italian heritage and his Texas upbringing together.)  The nice thing for me, it really only took about half an hour to get it together from marinade to plate.
* Note – I did both large shrimp and rock shrimp in the dish.  The rock shrimp are tiny, but super sweet and add an additional layer of flavor to the dish.


Shrimp and “Grits”
1 pound large shrimp – peeled and deveined
1/2 – 1 pound rock shrimp (optional)
1 pound smoked Andoullie sausage (cooked through, that you just need to heat and serve)
3 cloves garlic – minced
1 tablespoon smoked paprika
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon coriander
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 tablespoon olive oil
Juice and zest of 2 lemons
1/2 cup white wine
1 tablespoon butter
Salt and pepper
4 cups chicken stock
2 cups water
1-2 cups milk or half and half (we used fat free half and half, but any will do)
1/2 cup grated sharp cheddar cheese
1/2 – 3/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
Quick cooking polenta
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley

Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees. Rinse the shrimp and pat dry, then place them in a medium size bowl.  Add the paprika, cumin, cayenne, corriander, 1 teaspoon each salt and pepper, 2 cloves garlic, lemon zest, 1 tablespoon olive oil, juice of 1 and 1/2 lemons and wine.  Stir well to coat.  Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for about 20 minutes.  Bring the stock and water to a boil a large Dutch oven or stock pot with the remaining tablespoon of minced garlic.  Slice the sausage and place in a baking dish. Place the dish in the oven to warm the sausage through.  When the stock has come to a boil whisk in the polenta, starting with about 1 1/2 cups.  Continue to whisk as the stock and polenta come together.  Whisk in the cheese and 1/2 cup of milk/half and half.  Season well with salt and pepper.  Reduce heat to a simmer and continue to whisk the polenta about every 2 minutes, adding any additional milk along the way.  Remove the shrimp from the refrigerator and drain off the marinade.  Heat a grill pan or a skillet to medium high heat, add the pat of butter, and quickly grill the shrimp, 2-3 minutes on each side should do it. (Until the shrimp are bright pink.)  Scoop into a serving dish, garnish with 1/2 tablespoon parsley, remaining lemon juice and set aside.  Place the sausage in a serving dish and set aside.  Whisk in the remaining parsley and any the remaining milk you may have so it is nice and creamy when it is served.  You can either serve family style, with each element separated or plate each serving with a big bowl of polenta with the shrimp and sausage on top.

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