CAJUN SHRIMP AND GRITS
Recently, I enjoyed several days pup-sitting with my granddog Bonnie in New Orleans while my daughter and her husband went off for some fun in the West. So I invited my sister and her husband to drive over from Pensacola for lunch and a visit, which they did. What to cook for lunch? Shrimp and Grits came to mind, so I set about seeking a good New Orleans recipe for the event.
Thanks to renowned chef, John Besh and his wonderful cookbook “My New Orleans,” I adapted his way to suit my own ways and tastes. If you don’t have this cookbook or his “Cooking from the Heart,” I’d start hinting around for great holiday gifts.
With a little garlicky french bread, my new recipe is great for company or just for your own enjoyment. It’s not difficult to do, although I broke it down across two days so I wouldn’t be rushed with relatives on the way. Day One, I made the shrimp broth (it has to simmer 2 hours and you can freeze what you don’t use here). Day Two, it all came together for lunch.
So, let’s get started:
SHRIMP BROTH (MAKES 6 CUPS)
¼ cup canola oil
2 stalks celery, coarsely chopped
1 carrot, peeled and coarsely chopped (or 1 cup pre-packaged carrot “sticks”)
1 leek, white part, coarsely chopped (wash well to remove grit)
4 cloves garlic, crushed
Shrimp shells, heads from what you’ve bought (36 raw shrimp)
1 bay leaf
3 sprigs fresh thyme
1 teaspoon black peppercorns
- Heat canola oil in a large pot over medium heat. Cook onions, celery, carrots, leeks and garlic. Stir often until they’re soft but not brown. About 5-8 minutes.
- Add shrimp shells/heads, bay leaf, thyme, peppercorns and 3 quarts water. Boost heat to high, bring to boil then lower heat to simmer gently about 2 hours. Stir occasionally. If any foam rises to the surface, skim it off. This cooks until stock reduces by half.
- Strain through a fine sieve into a container you can cover. Allow covered broth to cool and refrigerate. You can freeze what you don’t use (I used quart-size freezer bags with 1 ½ to 2 cups each and marked the outside with the amount and date.)
BASIC CREOLE SPICES (MAKES ½ CUP)
Besh uses this blend often, and it will last six months in an airtight container.
2 tablespoons celery salt
1 tablespoon sweet paprika
1 tablespoon coarse sea salt
1 tablespoon freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon garlic powder
1 tablespoon onion powder
2 tablespoons cayenne pepper
½ teaspoon ground allspice
Mix together in a bowl. Transfer to a container with a tight lid, cover and store.
2 tablespoons olive oil
36 jumbo Louisiana or any other wild shrimp
Basic Creole Spice blend
½ cup minced andouille sausage
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 bunch green onions, chopped
1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme leaves
1 ½ cups Basic Shrimp Broth
8 ounces fresh mushrooms (remove stems), coarsely chopped
2 tablespoon butter
1 whole lemon for juice
- Peel raw shrimp and use peel/heads in Basic Shrimp Broth, leaving the tails on for effect. Since you will make the broth ahead of time, put peeled shrimp into the refrigerator until time to make the sauce.
- In a large skillet, heat olive oil over moderate heat. Liberally season shrimp with Creole Spices and salt. Sauté shrimp until they begin to turn pink, turning and then remove from the skillet before they are fully cooked. This should take just a minute or so.
- In the same skillet, sauté andouille, green onions, mushrooms and thyme until aromatic. Add garlic. Cook about 5-7 minutes. Add Shrimp Broth and simmer. After about 15 minutes when sauce has reduced and is much thicker, add butter.
- Return shrimp to the skillet, add lemon juice and cook another 5 minutes.
1 teaspoon salt
2 cups white stone-ground organic grits
2 tablespoons butter
½ cup shredded gruyere cheese
- In a medium sauce pan, bring 4 cups water with salt to a boil over high heat. Slowly pour in grits and whisk constantly for 1 minute. Reduce heat to low, stirring/whisking often so grits won’t stick to the bottom of the pot. Simmer grits uncovered until all the water is absorbed and the grits are tender, about 20 minutes.
- Stir in butter and cheese. Remove from heat and cover until sauce is ready for serving. (If the pan of grits is going to sit for a while, place plastic wrap onto the grits’ surface to prevent a crust from forming.)
CAJUN SHRIMP WITH ANDOUILLE OVER GRITS
Start the sauce, then 20 minutes out cook the grits. To serve, place a heaping serving of grits in the center of your plate or large soup bowl, then ladle on your shrimp sauce. Place a piece of garlic bread on the side. Yum!
Serve with garlic french bread and a green salad for a gorgeous meal! Enjoy.
(Bonnie can’t wait!)