I could probably eat shrimp and grits every day of my life. Really. They are the best of all possible worlds: grits/polenta, sausage, and shrimp. Delicious. I've been looking for a great recipe for shrimp & grits, an old southern classic, for years. And thankfully, the NY Times came through. It's a bit of a multi-step process, but overall an easy recipe, one that is consistent every single time. Get ready to get some pots dirty, but your taste buds will thank you.
Total Time: 90 minutes
Yield: 4 servings
For the roasted tomato
8 plum tomatoes, halved lengthwise
1 garlic clove, minced
2 tablespoons olive oil
For the fennel
1 large fennel bulb, trimmed fronds reserved and cut into thin wedges
2-3 cups chicken, vegetable, or shrimp broth, or water
1 tablespoon butter
ground white pepper
For the Grits
1 cup coarse corn grits
1 fresh bay leaf
1 1/2 tablespoons butter
1 tablespoon cream cheese
ground white pepper
1/2 teaspoon lemon juice, or to taste
1/2 teaspoon hot sauce, or to taste
For the shrimp and assembly
1 tablespoon olive oil
20 large shrimp, peeled and deveined
1 cup cooked smoked sausage or other smoked breakfast sausage
1 teaspoon lemon juice, or to taste
2 tablespoons chopped parsley
1. For the roasted tomato; heat oven to 450 degrees F. Toss tomato halves in a bowl with garlic, olive oil, salt, and pepper. Transfer, cut side up, to a baking sheet. Roasted until collapsed and lightly browned, 25-30 minutes and set aside.
2. For the fennel: in a small saucepan, combine the fennel, half of the reserved fronds, and just enough broth or water to cover. Add butter and season with salt and white pepper. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to very low, and simmer until tender when pierced with a fork, 8-10 minutes. Transfer fennel to a plate, discard cooking fronds and reserve cooking liquid.
3. For the grits: Bring 4 cups of water or broth to a boil. Gradually mix in the grits, a little at a time. Constantly stir, incorporating the grits with the broth/water. Season to taste with salt and white pepper, and add the bay leaf halfway through cooking (grits should take 15-20 minutes with constant stirring). At the end of cooking, mix grits with butter, cream cheese, white pepper, lemon juice, and hot sauce. Adjust salt as needed. About 10-12 minutes before the grits are finished cooking, prepare the shrimp and assemble the dish.
4. For shrimp and assembly: Place a large saute pan over medium heat and add the oil. When the oil is shimmering, add the shrimp in a single layer. When they are seared on one side, about one minute, turn them to sear on the other side.
Add the fennel, sausage, roasted tomatoes, and 1 1/2 cups of the reserved fennel cooking liquid. Bring to a simmer and season with lemon juice, hot sauce, and salt. If the mixture seems too dry, add more fennel cooking liquid as desired. Add chopped parsley and toss to mix.
To serve, place equal portions of grits on four rimmed plats or shallow soup plates. Divide the shrimp stew among the plates, garnish with remaining fennel fronds, and serve.