Shrimp and Creamy Grits

12.10.2020 | In Recipes

Jordan Macha, Executive Director & Waterkeeper for Bayou City Waterkeeper

I'm a child of the Gulf Coast - with its warm waters and briny air. Having grown up along the Upper Texas Coast, coastal Louisiana was only a short journey away and represented an unadulterated version of the natural bayous, wetlands, and waterways that had once existed along our coastlines. I moved to New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina and began my own journey deepening my connection to the waters and coastline that meander along and within the Gulf of Mexico. The culture of south Louisiana's people is shown best through their food, music and art. From the simplicity of freshly caught fried shrimp, lightly battered in cornmeal, to an exceptionally complex seafood gumbo packed with blue crab, oysters, shrimp and fish, the natural bounty and beauty of Louisiana's coast shines through in its cuisine.

One of my favorite memories was at a fishing rodeo in Cutoff, Louisiana, where I tasted the most exquisite fried shrimp I've ever had in my life. Surrounded by friends old and new, we relished in eating these crispy gems while participating in a jambalaya cookoff competition. Coated only with watered-down French's mustard and a corn-flour mixture, flaked with black pepper, the natural sweetness and slight brininess of the shrimp sang through its crisp exterior with each bite. At the rodeo cookoff, we watched the outrageously large drums and red fish make their way to the judges, and shared stories and music with our competition neighbors. The competition was held on the edge of Bayou Lafourche, marking the starting point for the waters that flowed through bays and inlets down to the Gulf. Where land and brackish sea meet, we all came together.

Seeing the coastline in its disappearing state has never been a shock, but more of a reckoning of how we as society have destroyed this bountiful natural resource and within that, have moved its people further away from its waters and wetlands. Louisiana's coast does not simply represent an economy of numbers and profits, but holds the history and magic that makes Southern Louisiana such a special place. While I no longer call south Louisiana my physical home - it will always lay claim to my heart-home and the hearth I look forward to returning to throughout my life.

Shrimp and Creamy Grits Recipe

I picked this dish because it was one that I worked to perfect; and also, one that I seduced my then-boyfriend, now-husband with when he first visited New Orleans. It's our favorite brunch dish at a restaurant (most favorite at Atchafalaya in the Irish Channel), and a favorite dinner recipe at home. Getting ultra-fresh shrimp is the key to combine the sweetness of the shrimp, with the fattiness of the creamed grits, and the complexity of the piquant sauce.

Yields6 Servings
Total Time1 hr 30 mins

Ingredients

Grits
 3 cups chicken stock or bone broth
 2 1/2 cups half and half
 1 1/4 cups stone ground grits
 1 1/4 tsp salt
 1/4 tsp ground white pepper
 1/4 tsp Tabasco sauce
 2-3 tbsp cream cheese, room temperature
 2 tbsp butter
 fresh ground black pepper
Shrimp
 1 1/2 lb. gulf white shrimp, peeled (head on or off, personal preference)
 2 tsp salt
 2 tsp paprika
 1 tsp cumin
 1 tsp onion powder
 1 tsp garlic powder
 1/2 tsp cayenne
 1/2 tsp white pepper
 1 tsp dried oregano
 1 tsp dried thyme
 1 tsp dried basil
 Black pepper to taste
 1/2 cup dry white wine
 3 tbsp *good* unsalted butter, divided
 1/2 lb. mushrooms, sliced
 3/4 cup finely chopped green onion (white and green parts)
 3-5 cloves garlic, minced
 1/2 cup of Jarlsburg cheese (preferred) or Emmentaler or Swiss cheese.
 Salt and fresh cracked pepper for seasoning

Directions

Grits Directions
1

Bring chicken stock and half and half to a boil in a large pot or Dutch oven. Add salt and gradually whisk in grits.

2

Reduce heat to maintain a low boil and cook 30 minutes*, stirring frequently with a whisk to prevent clumps or sticking.

3

If grits get too thick, you can add a little more water or chicken stock. Once cooked, stir in cream cheese and butter. If not in an oven-safe vessel, transfer grits to oven-safe Dutch oven or casserole dish.

4

This dish can be assembled up to 1 day ahead, return to room temperature before baking to reheat (350* oven, covered, for 20-30 minutes. Add in more chicken stock or water to re-incorporate.)

*Cooking time can vary for stone ground grits. Some brands can take as long as 50 minutes. Go by the cooking time on the package.

Shrimp Directions
5

In a small bowl, combine the seasonings (salt, paprika, cumin, onion and garlic powder, cayenne, white pepper, oregano, thyme, basil, and black pepper) in a small bowl.

6

In a larger bowl, combine seasonings with shrimp and toss to combine. Set aside.

7

In a large skillet, melt 3 tbsp of butter over medium-high heat and add shrimp. Be sure to make space for each shrimp to touch the pan so that it crisps to golden on each side. Cook shrimp for 4 minutes, turning at least once. (Shrimp will cook through when placed into the oven to finish.)

8

In the same skillet, add the mushrooms, green onions, and garlic and sauté for 3-5 minutes until garlic becomes fragrant (do not toast). Season to taste.

9

Turn heat to high and add white wine. Constantly stirring, reduce wine by half until it begins to thicken on the spoon or spatula. Add 1/2 cup of cheese and stir into reduce mixture, cooking until cheese melts and emulsifies into sauce, about 2-3 minutes more.

10

Remove shrimp to a plate and cover.

11

Add shrimp back into the sauce and combine to coat.

12

Spoon shrimp evenly over grits (in oven-safe dish) and drizzle with half of the sauce. Reserve the remaining sauce.

13

Broil or bake, uncovered, until the top begins to brown and sauce starts to bubble – 2 to 7 minutes (all dependent on method of cooking and how far the heat element is from food).

14

Portion out shrimp and grits and drizzle remaining sauce on each dish. Serve immediately.

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Ingredients

Grits
 3 cups chicken stock or bone broth
 2 1/2 cups half and half
 1 1/4 cups stone ground grits
 1 1/4 tsp salt
 1/4 tsp ground white pepper
 1/4 tsp Tabasco sauce
 2-3 tbsp cream cheese, room temperature
 2 tbsp butter
 fresh ground black pepper
Shrimp
 1 1/2 lb. gulf white shrimp, peeled (head on or off, personal preference)
 2 tsp salt
 2 tsp paprika
 1 tsp cumin
 1 tsp onion powder
 1 tsp garlic powder
 1/2 tsp cayenne
 1/2 tsp white pepper
 1 tsp dried oregano
 1 tsp dried thyme
 1 tsp dried basil
 Black pepper to taste
 1/2 cup dry white wine
 3 tbsp *good* unsalted butter, divided
 1/2 lb. mushrooms, sliced
 3/4 cup finely chopped green onion (white and green parts)
 3-5 cloves garlic, minced
 1/2 cup of Jarlsburg cheese (preferred) or Emmentaler or Swiss cheese.
 Salt and fresh cracked pepper for seasoning

Directions

Grits Directions
1

Bring chicken stock and half and half to a boil in a large pot or Dutch oven. Add salt and gradually whisk in grits.

2

Reduce heat to maintain a low boil and cook 30 minutes*, stirring frequently with a whisk to prevent clumps or sticking.

3

If grits get too thick, you can add a little more water or chicken stock. Once cooked, stir in cream cheese and butter. If not in an oven-safe vessel, transfer grits to oven-safe Dutch oven or casserole dish.

4

This dish can be assembled up to 1 day ahead, return to room temperature before baking to reheat (350* oven, covered, for 20-30 minutes. Add in more chicken stock or water to re-incorporate.)

*Cooking time can vary for stone ground grits. Some brands can take as long as 50 minutes. Go by the cooking time on the package.

Shrimp Directions
5

In a small bowl, combine the seasonings (salt, paprika, cumin, onion and garlic powder, cayenne, white pepper, oregano, thyme, basil, and black pepper) in a small bowl.

6

In a larger bowl, combine seasonings with shrimp and toss to combine. Set aside.

7

In a large skillet, melt 3 tbsp of butter over medium-high heat and add shrimp. Be sure to make space for each shrimp to touch the pan so that it crisps to golden on each side. Cook shrimp for 4 minutes, turning at least once. (Shrimp will cook through when placed into the oven to finish.)

8

In the same skillet, add the mushrooms, green onions, and garlic and sauté for 3-5 minutes until garlic becomes fragrant (do not toast). Season to taste.

9

Turn heat to high and add white wine. Constantly stirring, reduce wine by half until it begins to thicken on the spoon or spatula. Add 1/2 cup of cheese and stir into reduce mixture, cooking until cheese melts and emulsifies into sauce, about 2-3 minutes more.

10

Remove shrimp to a plate and cover.

11

Add shrimp back into the sauce and combine to coat.

12

Spoon shrimp evenly over grits (in oven-safe dish) and drizzle with half of the sauce. Reserve the remaining sauce.

13

Broil or bake, uncovered, until the top begins to brown and sauce starts to bubble – 2 to 7 minutes (all dependent on method of cooking and how far the heat element is from food).

14

Portion out shrimp and grits and drizzle remaining sauce on each dish. Serve immediately.

Shrimp and Creamy Grits