I can't really remember my first encounter but it was such an obvious pairing. I looked through Charleston Receipts and no mention of it or in any other vintage cookbook publication. I suppose if I researched it long enough I'd find when this sublime dish made it's debut and went viral. Maybe grits held it back for a while. Grits where not always held in the esteem they've acquire now that network and Internet cooking has introduced the world to so many new foods. They only acquired a respectable national reputation when they married shrimp. It's kind of like when the share cropper asked the plantation owner's daughter for a date and the sparks flew. When I was young, grits where looked down upon by folks outside the South as something inferior and associated with poverty or some nonsense. I have no pity for those fools. Grits can be ghastly if not cooked right or not enriched with milk and butter but they can certainly hold their own with risotto or polenta.
Well, sometimes, the brilliance is right in front of you and you just don't know it. Shrimp & Grits are for any occasion but on a fine Easter Day like this, nothing else would do. This is an easy crowd pleaser dish for a novice or a sophisticate. Variation on the dish is endless but this is mine.
For the Grits:
1 1/2 cups yellow stone ground grits
2 cups water
2 cups chicken stock
2 cups whole milk
4 tbls unsalted butter
1 tsp salt
1/4 cup fresh grated Parmesan cheese
In a large heavy pot sprayed with vegetable spray, add the water, salt and soak the grits over night or several hours. Add the chicken stock, milk. Cook slowly over low heat, stirring frequently for an hour until thickened. Add the butter and just before serving the Parmesan cheese. Keep covered until ready to serve and add water it necessary. Grits should be creamy and without lumps.
For the Shrimp:
3 lbs fresh shelled and deviened shrimp
1 cup chopped sweet onion
1 cup sliced porcini mushrooms
1 cup diced fresh tomato, seeded
1 red pepper stemmed cored and sliced into thin stripes
2 tbls minced fresh garlic
2 tbls chopped fresh flat leaf Italian parsley
1 tsp fresh chopped fresh thyme
4 tbls unsalted butter
2 tbls olive oil
1 cup dry white wine (drinkable)
1 tbls Worcestershire sauce
salt & pepper to taste
Tabasco to taste ( I like 1 tsp)
2 tbls fresh chopped chives
Melt the butter and olive oil over medium heat. Add the onion and red pepper and cook stirring for 3 minutes. Add the mushrooms an cook another 4 minutes. Add the garlic, parsley and thyme cooking 1 minute more. Add the white wine and cook until reduced by half ( 2-3 mins). Add the Worcestershire and shrimp. Cook, tossing shrimp just until shrimp is no longer pink. Add Tabasco.
Serve over cooked grits and garnish with chives.