Like many people, I went through a very prolonged life phase in which I watched a very excessive amount of the Food Network – and quite frankly, that phase of my life is still sort of ongoing, except now I watch more Cooking Channel than Food Network, because I’d prefer to watch someone cook a meal, than construct a cake that moves AND lights up AND cleans the kitchen, in the name of competition. At any rate, I have strong opinions on most of the chefs that appear on the Food Network and Cooking Channel… for instance, Rachael Ray has good food ideas, but is irritating to watch, Ina Garten makes awesome food, but I want to strangle her each time she says “How easy is THAT?”, or tells me to make sure I use “really good quality” vanilla/dark chocolate/butter/ground beef. Bobby Flay is too full of himself for me (his stints judging on various competitions have killed the small amount of likability I once thought he possessed), the Hungry Girl is BAT-SHIT CRAZY, and I want Aarti and Giada to be my friends.
So, occasionally, I will be blogging about a fun way to use up some leftovers, or a way to combine several recipes to make a new dish! Today, I am going to tell you about the shrimp and grits I made on Saturday, and how I combined a few recipes, and how it was MIND-BLOWINGLY AMAZING. Seriously, I kind of want to make this dish every week until the end of time.
BBQ Shrimp and Grits
Serves 4 (with leftover grits)
Things you need:
1/2 recipe of Crist’s pulled pork barbecue sauce (I made the whole recipe of the sauce, and will just use the extra sauce for barbecue chicken later this week)
Doubled recipe of sweet and spicy shrimp
Heavy cream, for a pan sauce
Let me start by telling you the small changes I made to these recipes:
Barbecue sauce – I cooked this on the stovetop. I combined the ingredients in a small sauce pan, brought it to a quick boil, then reduced to a simmer and let it go for about 2 hours on low, until it was nice and thick.
Sweet and spicy shrimp – you can use the full spice rub used in this recipe, or you can just use salt, pepper, and garlic powder.
Cheesy grits – I used a different variety of grits this time, so it called for different proportions (2 cups grits to 6 cups water). Additionally, I let the grits cook for about 25 minutes, then I stirred in the heavy cream, and then I let them cook another 30 minutes or so, until they were nice and thick (i.e. you could stick a spoon into the pot and it would stand straight up). I added the cheese at the very end, stirred until it was all combined and melted, and that was it!
So, here goes:
1.) Make your barbecue sauce. This can be done a day or two ahead of time if you’d like.
2.) Start making your grits. While those are cooking, thaw, peel, dry, and season your shrimp.
3.) Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat, and add a tablespoon of vegetable oil to the pan (I used bacon grease here – if you have it, I’d recommend using it). Once the pan is hot, add about half your shrimp, and then baste them with your barbecue sauce.
4.) Once all your shrimp have been brushed with barbecue sauce, flip them, and baste the other side with more barbecue sauce. Remove them from the pan once they’ve just turned opaque and light pink. Repeat steps 3 and 4 with the remaining shrimp. When all the shrimp are done, do NOT clean the pan, as we’re going to make a pan sauce with the bits of deliciousness left in there.
5.) By now, your grits should be about done. Stir your cheese into the grits, and turn off the heat.
6.) Time to make a quick pan sauce. Lower the heat on the pan you used to make the shrimp to medium-low. Ladle in about 2-3 ladles full of barbecue sauce, and let it bubble up a bit. Now pour in about 2-3 T of heavy cream, and stir with a wooden spoon to combine (make sure you scrape the bottom of the pan a bit, too, to pick up those delicious brown bits from the shrimp and barbecue sauce and bacon grease). Once it’s combined, turn off the heat.
7.) Spoon a nice big pile of grits into each bowl, and top with about 7-8 shrimp. Top with a couple spoonfuls of your pan sauce, and devour.
This is one of the best meals I’ve made in recent memory. The barbecue sauce has a great balance of sugar and vinegar, the small amount of heavy cream lends a little richness to the dish without making it heavy, and the cheesy grits are wonderfully chewy and cheesy and AWESOME. This is definitely a meal that would impress your dinner guests.
(Edited to add: I just got verbally assaulted by the Southern Belle for proclaiming my grits to be “chewy”… perhaps I picked the wrong word here. They are… toothsome? They have a good, hearty texture? They are not-too-soft and overly soup-like in consistency? They have a pleasant bite, in the same way that a good al denta pasta does. I hope this helps.)
And they call me a Yankee,