Contrary to what most of us New Yorkers may believe, there are a vast number of people out there who aren’t spreading the news, are not leaving today, and don’t even care to want to be a part of our New York, NY. They do not care to make it here, because they are making it elsewhere. Shockingly, yes. But this is because they are already living it up in magical cities of their own. New Orleans is a jewel among them. Full of jazz, great architecture, history, unique cuisine, and a language all its own, no wonder that its one of America’s most beloved cities.
While in New Orleans for our friends’ unbelievably magical wedding weekend, I was excited to expand my horizons and try some of the unique cuisines the city has to offer: crawfish étouffée, alligator sausage, frogs legs… and I was most excited to satisfy my newly found craving for that good ‘ol Southern staple – shrimp and grits.
Finding authentic shrimp and grits (the fun pronunciation is “greeeeeettttsss”) in New York City is virtually impossible. Yes, there are some places that have some sort of gluey gloppy mess trying to pass itself off as cheese grits, but it just lacks that certain je ne sais quoi. There are a few other options – date a Southerner who can cook, book a plane ticket to NoLa, or make ‘em yourself.Here’s my own version of shrimp ‘n grits! While it hasn’t been road tested by a real Southerner yet, I think it’s a nice little homage to the ‘ol bayou…
The key is to source the best quality grits as possible. My first bag of grits was purchased during a different trip to charming Charleston, SC. This bag of Palmetto’s Farm Grits was purchased online, and I would highly recommend this brand. Not only are you purchasing some of the best quality stone ground grits around, you’re supporting a family owned business dedicated to keeping old school traditions alive.
Yankee Shrimp ‘n’ Grits
(serves 2) cook time: 30 min total
1/4 cup yellow or white stone ground grits (be sure to avoid instant)
2 cups + 1/4 cup whole milk (first to start, then during cooking)
1/4 cup water
2 tblspn unsalted butter
1/2 cup (or more to your liking) fresh grated cheddar cheese
salt and fresh ground black pepper
10 or so med size fresh shrimp, cleaned and deveined
1/2 med size onion, sliced
1 clove garlic, minced
pinch of paprika or cayenne pepper, or any dry southern seasoning of your choice
freshly squeezed lemon juice
2 tblspn fresh parsley
Make the Grits
Rule of thumb for grits to liquid ratio. The recommendation is 1 cup grits : 4 cups liquid, but I go for almost 1:5 or 1:6 ratio for creamy results.
(1). In a med size heavy bottom saucepan, measure out 2 cups of milk + ¼ cup water, add the ¼ cup of grits. Bring to a boil over med high heat. (You’ll add the rest of the milk after 10min when it starts to come together) After it’s bubbling, turn the heat down to low simmer. Stir with a flat squared off wooden spoon (in order to get into the corners). Add the rest of the milk (¼ to ½ cup more here).
(2). After about 10-15 minutes of stirring fairly constantly so it doesn’t stick to the bottom, you will start to see it thickening and slowly coming together. (don’t rush the process, it takes about 25 minutes total cook time). Keep stirring, add a tiny pinch of salt at this stage, and start the shrimp.
Sauté the shrimp
(3). In a small frying pan over med heat, sauté onions till soft, 5 min. Add garlic, sliced chorizo (optional) to brown and warm through (8 min). Finally add your shrimp, sprinkle over some paprika or seasonings, and sauté the shrimp for 8-10 min total till nicely browned. Turn heat off, leave in pan to keep warm. (You can finish with a spritz of fresh lemon juice also).
Finish the grits
(4). After 25 minutes the grits will start to really thicken up. Keep stirring and add the grated cheese here. Taste for seasoning (salt & pepper), and finish with the 2 tblspn of butter. It will be fluffy and creamy after 30 minutes.
Serve hot with the shrimp and chorizo sauté over the grits, with a sprinkle parsley on top. Throw on some jazz, mix up a pitcher of cocktails, and enjoy!!
This lovely bag of grits was purchased from Palmetto Farms: