Perfect Shrimp & Grits

If you search online, you’ll find millions of ways to make shrimp and grits. I even have some older recipes here on the Hobby Blog. But if I can oversimplify it a bit, there are only variations of two ways.

There’s the thin, sauceless topping of shrimp cooked with vegetables and rendered fat, usually bacon. Then there’s the thicker, sauced version of shrimp cooked in sauce thickened with roux or tomatoes/peppers, or in this case, both.

I usually cook the thinner, stripped down version of this recipe. It’s relatively lower calorie and is much faster to make. But I finally came up with a recipe/method for thicker, sauced shrimp and grits that puts out consistently great results.

I almost never get an itch to make shrimp and grits and then go buy all of the ingredients. This is one of those recipes that seems obvious when I realize I have leftover grits in the fridge. I usually have ½ pounds of andouille sausage in the freezer, and everything else aside from the shrimp is a pantry staple.

This comes together in about 20 minutes and requires little effort beyond chopping and stirring. I usually keep my grits in the pot in the fridge. When it’s time to reheat them, I just toss the whole pot into a 300° oven for at least 30 minutes, maybe more. At some point, I fluff them up with a fork. If they’re dry and crumbly, I add a few tablespoons of milk or cream—whatever I have on hand—into the pot and stir. They become creamy again.

This recipe assumes that you already have some grits prepared. If not, follow the first half of this rich and creamy cheese grits recipe to just make the grits. Let them cool a bit before serving.

Sauce ingredients

  • 1 pound shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • ½ pound spicy andouille sausage, cut into half moons
  • 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
  • 1 small sweet onion, diced
  • 1 bell pepper, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 can Rotel fire roasted tomatoes and peppers (with liquid)
  • 1 cup reduced sodium chicken stock
  • 2 tablespoons cream
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • salt, pepper, and Voltron seasoning to taste

I’ve mentioned before that I have a spice shaker in my kitchen with a picture of Voltron on it. It’s my blackening seasoning for fish, chicken, and everything else that I want to spice up. For the record, it’s 1 part Wondra flour to 3 parts Tony Chachere’s to 5 parts Old Bay. I also mix in some dried Parsley, but it’s not enough to make up a “part.” Keep in mind that even though Wondra is very fine, the flour taste still need a little time to cook off.

Sauté the andouille over medium heat. You want a lot of flat surfaces here so the edges will sear and the fat will render. I should add that you need a very spicy andouille sausage to recreate this recipe. I buy 2 pounds of Ragin’ Cajun brand when I make gumbo. I use 1½ pounds in that recipe and usually freeze the remainder for a recipe like this.

When the sausage is nicely browned, remove from the pan with a slotted spoon, reserving the grease. Add the all-purpose flour and whisk with the rendered fat to make a roux. You don’t have to stir for too long. Maybe 3 minutes. Next, add the peppers and onions and continue to stir. When the onions and peppers start to brown, add the garlic and cook until it’s starting to brown as well.

Add the Rotel tomatoes and the chicken stock to the pan and stir until the roux is incorporated. Add the sausage back to the pan and simmer until liquid is reduced by half.

Add the shrimp and cook until pink and cooked through. Season the sauce to taste. Remember that you want the flavors to be a little bold. They will be muted by the addition of the cream and butter. I should add that you don’t have to add the cream and butter, but I like the smooth, finished texture they add.

Serve over warm grits. Garnish with fresh chives and parsley if you’d like.

Other good additions: cannellini beans, fresh spinach wilted in the sauce, hatch chilis, roasted peppers, okra. With this recipe and a frittata (or some egg foo young) the next morning, I can clean out the crisper.

Perfect Shrimp & Grits
 

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