As promised, below is my recipe for shrimp and grits. I apologize for the inexactness in certain places--I was vague with the grits instructions because cooking times and liquid-to-grits ratios vary between brands and types. This recipe will feed 12 in a sit-down situation, which is great for holiday breakfasts, and also works well as a buffet item for twice to three times as many people. Delicious with champagne!
2 pounds of raw 30-count shrimp, shells on
2 celery ribs, coarsely chopped
1 small onion, coarsely chopped
1 sprig of fresh sage, coarsely chopped
4 cups low-sodium chicken or vegetable stock (I usually do about half canned chicken stock and half homemade vegetable stock)
1 and 1/2 cups sherry (or cooking sherry)
1 tbs olive oil
1 tbs butter
1 and ½ cups whipping cream or similar (do not substitute with anything lighter than half-and-halfyoull need the fat to thicken the sauce)
~6 good dashes of Tabasco
For the grits:
Grits-can be "quick" but not instant. *As per package instructions*, the requisite amount for 12 servings
Shrimp cream stock, from above
4 cloves garlic, smashed
2 tbs butter
For the remaining assembly:
½ pound ham, diced
½ pound whole fresh haricots verts (or regular string beans, or asparagus. I add these to give it color and an extra vegetable.)
1 small onion, diced
2 tbs butter
1 tbs olive oil
First, cook the stock:
Peel and devein the shrimp, reserving the shells and legs. (Leave the tails on or dont, as you please. If you get shrimp with the heads on, remove those and use them in the stock, too, if youd like.) Heat the oil and butter in a large, heavy stockpot. Add the shrimp shells and legs (and/or tails and heads). Saute these until they are starting to brownthey should be stiff and light and smell a bit like popcorn or toasted rice when they are ready. Add the onions, celery, and sage, and toss until the onions soften a bit, but not long enough that the shrimp shells burn. Add the sherry, deglazing the pot as you stir the mixture. It should boil pretty vigorously. When the sherry has reduced by about half, add the stock and the tabasco. Reduce the heat, cover and simmer for about 30-40 minutes. Strain, discard the solids (watch the steam!), and return the liquid to the stove. Add the cream and cook uncovered just long enough for it to heat through again (about 5 minutes), and remove from the heat. The stock can sit overnight in the fridge or be used right away. I like to make it the night before to break up the process and let the flavors mingle, but its not necessary.
Grits and assembly:
Blanch the green beans in boiling salted water until just tender and bright green; rinse in cold water, drain, and set aside.
Using the package directions, cook the grits substituting 2/3 of the water for shrimp cream stock from above, adding 2 tbs butter and 4 smashed cloves of garlic. Grits should be poured in gradually and whisked vigorously until they start to boil to guard against lumps. At the boiling point, reduce the heat to a slow simmer and cook the amount of time specified by the package directions, whisking occasionally.
While the grits are cooking, pour the remaining shrimp cream stock into a heavy skillet or saucepan and start it on a good simmer to reduce to a gravy-like thickness, stirring frequently but not constantly. (This is where you need the fat from the cream--goes faster in a skillet.)
In a separate large heavy skillet, heat the oil and butter. Saute the onions and ham together until the onions are limp and both are starting to brown slightly. Add the green beans and the peeled shrimp and cook until the shrimp have just turned red. (If necessary, do the shrimp in batches and remove them as they turn color.)
Pour the grits into the middle of a large, deep platter. Mound the shrimp, ham, onions, and green beans over the grits. Drizzle with the sauce, and pool some around the edges as well. Serve immediately. (You can also serve on 12 separate plates of course, by similar method.)