Mike

Shrimp and Grits

This is a fairly simple recipe that I think is really good. This is a base recipe which can be easily changed up by adding tasso, diced tomatoes, chopped onions, bell peppers, or just let your imagination run.  Feel free to change-up the cheese in the grits. All the stirring of the grits makes it somewhat high maintenance so I avoid cooking both parts of this recipe at the same time. Use whatever type of oil that makes you happy to sauté the shrimp.  I’ve used canola, plain vegetable, butter, olive, grape seed, and bacon grease – it’s all good. I like to season the shrimp at least an hour ahead to allow the different flavors to soak into the shrimp.

Grits

4 cups water
1 cup of white grits (not instant)
tbsp salt
1 cup parmesan cheese
¼ cup heavy cream
¼ stick of butter cut into ¼” slices 

Shrimp

2 pounds of jumbo shrimp peeled and deveined
2  tbsp Creole seasoning
1 lemon
2 tbsp garlic
1 tsp dried rosemary (crush or chop into small pieces)
1 tsp dried thyme
3 bay leaves
1 cup of shrimp stock – clam juice is a good substitute, chicken stock is OK, water if you must
1 cup beer
½ stick of butter cut into ¼” slices
1 tbsp corn starch
Enough cooking oil to cover bottom of pan

Bring 4 cups of water and salt to a boil. Add the grits. Reduce heat to low. You pretty much have to constantly stir this to keep the grits from lumping up. I use a whisk. As the grits begin to thicken add the heavy cream and parmesan cheese. Stir in the butter. You want the grits thick enough to support the shrimp. When done cover and set aside.

Season shrimp with ¼ of the Creole seasoning. Heat cooking oil in high sided 12” skillet or black iron pot. Add the shrimp and sauté to half done – just brown enough on each side to leave some flavor in the pot.  Remove, squeeze lemon over shrimp and set aside. Don’t crowd the pot when doing this step – do several batches. Also don’t let the oil start smoking. Once you are done with all the shrimp, sauté the garlic and add the rosemary, bay leaves and thyme. Squeeze in any remaining lemon juice. Just as the garlic starts to brown slowly add the shrimp stock then the beer. Add a tbsp of the Creole seasoning. Let this come to a slow boil and add the butter.  This next step is optional, but will give you a thicker sauce. With some type of cup remove about a ½ cup of the liquid and stir in the corn starch making sure there are no lumps. Stir this mixture back into the pot and bring to slow boil. Taste and add more of the seasoning to your taste if needed. Return the shrimp to the pot and simmer until the shrimp are fully cooked. Serve in a bowl over the grits.

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Shrimp and Oyster Scampi

This recipe is derived from a shrimp scampi recipe I found in a cookbook from the famous Rao’s Italian Restaurant in New York City called Rao’s Cookbook Over 100 Years of Italian Home Cooking. It’s a great cookbook with lots of historical family and restaurant information. I actually read this cookbook cover to cover and recommend it if you are looking for some great Italian recipes. The biggest change I made was to add oysters.

You could substitute the oysters for more shrimp (omit cornmeal), or if you are not into seafood switch to chicken or veal.

A pound of large shrimp should yield about 20-25 shrimp. I used 4 shrimp and 4 oysters per serving.

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Ingredients

1 lb large shrimp, peeled, deveined, and butterflied
1 pint of raw oysters
1 ½ cups flour
½ cup white corn meal
2 cups seasoned olive oil
1 ½ cups dry white wine
1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
2 tbsp minced garlic
8 tbsp butter
3 tbsp Creole season (adjust to your taste)
2 tbsp lemon juice
½ cup chicken broth
1 tbsp dried parsley
8 – 12 ounces of pasta (I used thin spaghetti)

Method

Start the pasta. Don’t forget about it while you are preparing the rest of the dish.  For that reason you may want to prepare head.

This dish moves pretty fast, so it would be a good idea to have all your ingredients at reach.

Keep seafood separate. Drain the oysters and pat dry as best you can. Pat the shrimp dry. I used paper towels. Season both with 1 tbsp Creole seasoning each.

Place 1 cup of the flour in a shallow bowl. Dredge shrimp in flour, coating the seafood thoroughly.

Mix the remaining cup of flour with the cornmeal. Dredge the oysters in the mix, coating all sides.

I used two skillets, one for the shrimp and another for the oysters. I find oysters leave a stronger flavor in the pan residue and I did not want the gritty cornmeal residue blending in my sauce. Heat 1 cup of oil in each skillet over med-high heat. Add the seafood and sauté for 2 to 3 minutes or until seafood has begun to brown. (Do not crowd pan; sauté in batches, being extra careful not to burn the residue in shrimp skillet.) Remove the seafood from skillets and drain off as much excess oil as possible in the shrimp skillet saving the crusty residue. Return the shrimp skillet to the heat once you have all the ingredients in the next paragraph ready to add. You still need to avoid burning the flour residue.

Slowly stir in the wine, Worcestershire sauce, and garlic. When well combined, whisk in 4 tablespoons butter. Stir in lemon juice and broth. Taste and add remaining Creole seasoning to your taste and return to a boil. Always wait to add more seasoning until after you add the broth since it greatly increases the salt taste. Return the shrimp and oysters to the skillet and stir them around in the sauce to let everything swap flavors.

Using a slotted spoon, remove the seafood from the skillet to a warm serving platter.

Boil sauce for 2 minutes, whisking in parsley and the remaining butter. If the sauce looks like it separating, try shaking the skillet back and forth instead of whisking – careful to not let the sauce lap over the side. You might be better off with a separated sauce than a messy stove or a fire. Pour the sauce into the serving dish over the shrimp and oysters. Serve over the pasta.