This is a "use your best judgment" recipe, which means that you will notice the absence of measurements and strict directions. Instead it invites improvisation and creativity in the kitchen by offering suggestions and a loose structure. Ordering this recipe includes all the local ingredients needed to make this dish for at least two people with some household staples. This weeks recipe box includes local shrimp, green onions, cheddar cheese, grits, and milk. All delivered right to your door for $30.
The below recipe is by Luke Paulson. Luke is a local Asheville resident and has his own luscious and flourishing garden at his home in West Asheville that he graciously shares with friends and family. He has worked with some of the best chefs in Asheville and is what one would consider a food guru.
Shrimp and Grits
This recipe comes together quickly, keeps you on your toes (in a good way!) and when it comes time to delve into the sweet fruits of your labor there are few southern dishes that can match. I recommend getting the grits going first, you will need about a cup of uncooked grits to feed four people and about 4 cups of liquid (adjust accordingly depending on how many hungry mouths you have to feed around tonights table). Some people like cooking their grits with chicken stock, some like adding some milk; either way, do your thing, add some salt, then put them on the back burner and have them on autopilot and let them simmer until cooked. Don't forget to stir frequently. We'll come back to the grits.
Next, to the skillet, and the shrimp. Before you touch the heat on your stove, I recommend taking a moment and peeling your shrimp. I like leaving the tails on, as it invites a little fun at the dinner table by giving you a chance to eat with your hands. Once the shrimp have been peeled, get a large cast iron skillet, or other relatively deep pot out. Do you have any bacon in your fridge? Great. How about some andouille sausage? Even better. If so, add it to the skillet now over medium heat and brown. Once it's sizzling and has some color, fish it from the skillet and set aside. Didn't want to use any pork? No problem, then this is where you will start. Add some butter to the pan followed by some onion, green pepper if you have it, and several cloves of garlic. Cook until soft. Now add some green onions, a splash of cream, and something off the tomato vine. If you use fresh tomatoes, make sure they are chopped; whole canned tomatoes crushed; and if tomato paste or sauce is what you find in the pantry, add plenty of it and give it a good stir. This is a great start, but all good southern cuisine has plenty of spices. This is a chance to get creative. Be generous, but not too generous. Use your nose to test continuously. I recommend adding some combination of paprika, parsley (fresh or dried), hot sauce, cajun seasoning blend if you have it, and of course, plenty of salt and pepper. The steaming mixture in your cast iron should be pretty soupy, if it's not then add a little water until it's a little thin. Add the shrimp (yea!), and the bacon or andouille if you choose. Cook it down until the shrimp are nice and pink.
Now, while the shrimp are finishing cooking, remember the grits? By now they are probably getting pretty close to being finished cooking. They should have simmered down to the slightly thick consistency that you may have well enjoyed before. First time making grits? The consistency should be slightly thinner than oatmeal. In the south, lot's of folks have different takes on how to put the finishing touches on their grits, but I really love adding a healthy couple handfuls of sharp cheddar cheese for this dish. Stir it in until it's melted and combined. Also great here that can be either substituted or added as an edition (goodness gracious) are cream cheese and butter. Add plenty and taste before serving, It should be rich, creamy, and decadent.
Now for the best part of all. Ladle the grits either onto a plate or into your favorite bowl. Spoon on a healthy portion of shrimp and the soupy sauce they cooked in; this is not a meal to be shy. I hope you have a bottle of white wine in the fridge, because good heavens it pairs with few other meals as well as it does shrimp and grits. Not a wine drinker? We don't often advocate for cheap beer here, but shrimp and grits are a friend to a good Budweiser. Want to go with something more upscale? Any of your favorite lagers will do.
Enjoy and, as always, let us know what you think.