Now, y’all know that I live in Atlanta. I’m still a Northerner at heart – you’d be hard-pressed to find a Southerner who loves hockey as much as me. But after more than two years here, I’ve adapted quite well to my new home. Let’s just say I recently attended a country concert in cowboy boots, and it felt completely natural.
One thing that the South is known for is a down-home dish called shrimp and grits. You can find it on the brunch menu of many restaurants down here. I’m not the biggest fan of grits, as a rule, but shrimp are one of my favorite things. And for some reason, when I was out to brunch a few weeks ago, shrimp and grits kept calling to me from the menu. Its voice was louder than that of the crabcake benedict, so I acquiesced. Man, was it good. The shrimp were perfectly tender and flavorful, but the grits almost stole the show. Studded with bacon and cheddar cheese, they were so much more than a foundation for seafood.
When I came across some yummy Georgia shrimp at the butcher shop, the idea to make my own shrimp and grits popped into my head. But instead of bacon, I wanted to use sausage. Some of y’all (yeah, I said y’all! This is a Southern post, after all) know about 37 Cooks, a fun group I was lucky enough to join a few months ago. Well, that group was recently sponsored by Teet’s Food Store down in Louisiana. They sent us a whole bunch of delicious sausage. My family has enjoyed it so much that was a no-brainer to incorporate that. And while many recipes call for cheddar cheese in the grits and green onions on the shrimp, I used Emmenthaler and chives. It worked so well that I just have to recommend that combination.
Grits are incredibly fast and easy to prepare, and so are shrimp. Be sure to cook them quickly over high heat; that’ll keep them tender. This brunch comes together so fast that you’ll want to have the mise en place set up before you even turn on the stove.
Shrimp and Grits with Smoked Sausage
1/2 cup grits
1 tablespoon butter
1/4 cup Emmenthaler cheese, shredded
4 ounces smoked pork sausage, sliced into coins (Teet’s is very good)
1/2 pound large shrimp, peeled and deveined (about eight big ones)
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1 small clove of garlic, minced fine
1 tablespoon minced fresh parsley
1 tablespoon minced fresh chives
Salt to taste
In a small saucepan, prepare 1/2 cup of grits as directed on package.
Meanwhile, in a small saute pan over medium heat, cook sausage slices until crisp and fat has rendered. Remove and reserve, keeping as much fat as possible in the pan. Turn the heat to medium-high and add the shrimp. Be careful to cook until just done – a couple of minutes per side until they curl and are opaque. When the shrimp are finished, add all at once the parsley, chives, garlic, lemon juice, and salt to taste. Stir a couple of times to coat the shrimp, then take the pan off the heat.
When the grits are finished, stir in the butter, cheese, and sausage.
Serve by plating the grits and arranging shrimp on top.