Grits are not traditionally eaten in Jamaica but they are a close cousin to finer grained cornmeal. They are cooked in milk and can be had sweet with sugar and spices or savory with butter and cheese. I love grits and will be showcasing it a few times here on the page. This first grits dish pays homage to the southern states of America where they are eaten often. Shrimp and grits is a popular dish in parts of the south and there are several twists on this dish. I have prepared it here in a tomato gravy finished with chives. I skipped the bacon that can go into this dish but feel free to add bacon if you wish. Shrimp and grits are not always finished in tomato sauce but rather in a butter sauce. I prefer the gravy to be a rich tomato sauce packed with flavor from thyme, lemon zest and of course, easy homemade shrimp stock.
For this recipe you will need:
- Large skillet
- Medium saucepan
- Small saucepan
- Wooden spoon
- Cutting board
- Sharp knife
- Lemon zester
- Small bowl
- Medium bowl
- Small strainer
- 1 lb colossal shrimp (deveined with shells on)
- 2 cups low sodium veggie stock
- 2 dry bay leaves
- Your favorite spice blend. Mine has:
- 1 packet or 1 tbsp @maggijm fish season up
- ½ tsp Old Bay powder
- ½ tsp garlic powder
- ½ tsp onion powder
- ½ tsp paprika
- ¼ tsp dried thyme
- ¼ tsp dried oregano
- ½ tsp black pepper
- 10 oz container of cherry tomatoes (washed and halved)
- 2 small shallots (small diced)
- 1/2 small purple onion (small diced)
- 2 cloves garlic (minced)
- 1 tsp red pepper flakes
- 1 tsp paprika
- 7 sprigs thyme (leaves removed from the stems) (stripped from stem)
- 1/4 cup heavy cream
- Zest from 1 lemon
- 4 tbsp olive oil
- 1 cup of grits
- 1 cup of milk
- 3 cups of water
- 1 tbsp butter
- ½ cup cheddar cheese or Parmesan cheese
- Peel shrimp and reserve the shells.
- In a small saucepan, add shells, veggie stock and one bay leaf.
Bring stock to a boil on medium high heat. Once the shrimp sells turn pink, turn the heat off. The stock will be used to flavor the sauce later.
- Combine your seasoning blend ingredients in a small bowl to make a dry rub. Use a spoon to mix in each spice well.
- In a medium bowl, season shrimp liberally with spice blend.
In a large skillet, heat 3 tbsp olive oil on medium high heat. Once the oil begins to smoke a little, it is ready. Add shrimp to the pan and sear on both sides. Remove shrimp from the pan once they turn pink. They do not need to be fully cooked through as they will finish cooking in the sauce.
- In the same pan add the remaining table spoon of olive oil. Keep flame on medium high heat.
- Add shallots and red onions to the skillet and let them cook until they are translucent, about 1 minute.
- Add in garlic, paprika and red pepper. Give the pan a good stir with a wooden spoon and cook for about 1 minute.
- Add all of the tomatoes to the skillet with a pinch of salt to help release the juices from the tomatoes. Stir and allow the tomatoes to cook uncovered for about 2 minutes until the skins begin to blister.
- Once the skins of the tomatoes start to blister, it is ready for the shrimp stock. Strain shrimp stock directly into the skillet. Stir gently to combine ingredients in stock.
- Add thyme and and allow sauce to come up to a boil so that it can reduce, about 5-7 mins.
- Once the stock reduces and slightly thickens, stir in heavy cream and lemon zest. Cook sauce for about 2 - 4 minutes.
- Add shrimp back to the skillet and allow the sauce to continue to reduce and thicken for about 2 minutes. Do not overcook shrimp.
- Taste sauce for salt and add if necessary.
Music Credit: Lovely Piano Song
Musician: Rafael Krux