Although I now live in the mountains, I’ve spent a good chunk of my life by the sea, too. Living in Virginia Beach and Chesapeake, VA from age 1 1/2-8 with a beach-loving mom, then again from age 13-15 on the Florida panhandle (Destin, Fl specifically where we lived directly across the street from the Gulf of Mexico), and one last time from age 16-18 on the coast of N.C, I’ve developed a love of sun, surf, sand, and seafood over the years.
I adore seafood in all its assorted and sundry incarnations. I will eat mussels, oysters, crab, and fish of every persuasion at any meal, any day. I do hold a special place in my heart, though, for shrimp. Coastal N.C. boasts a thriving shrimping community and having the pleasure of sampling it on a regular basis left an indelible mark on me.
So, when Glenn came home from the market the other day with market fresh N.C. shrimp, I knew good things were in store. Today I’m offering up a recipe for our take on shrimp and grits. A low-country staple (low-country in this case referring to the coastal areas of southern South Carolina), our shrimp and grits contain a bit of natural smoked country ham, too, a further tip of the hat to southern food at its finest.
During dinner that night, Glenn declared the dish “Last supper, death row good.” We’re not messing around here, friends. From our house to yours, here’s hoping this dish isn’t your last supper, but the beginning of a truly memorable, highly delicious one!
Kiss My Shrimp & Grits
Makes: 4 servings.
You Will Need:
For the stock
-1 Tablespoons olive oil
-The shells from the shrimp
-1 teaspoon sea salt
-3 cups water
For the grits
-Water from the shrimp stock
-2 cups whole milk
-1 cup grits (white or yellow)
-Pinch of sea salt
-2 Tablespoons butter
For the shrimp
-1 pound Shrimp, peeled and deveined
-1 cup wine of your choice
-A pat of butter for frying the ham
-4 ounces thin-sliced country ham*
-2 ounces olive oil
-1 carrot, diced
-1/2 onion, diced
-1 stalk celery, diced
-2 cloves garlic, minced
-1 10-ounce package of chopped frozen spinach (or fresh in season)
-1 tablespoon capers (optional)
-Pinch of sea salt
-Several grinds black pepper
-Juice of 1/4 lemon
-1 teaspoon marjoram
-1-2 ounces crumbled feta or Mexican farmer’s cheese (optional)
*We used Goodnight Brothers pastured N.C. Dry-Cured Ham.
Cook the shrimp stock
1) Peel and devein the shrimp.
2) Heat 1 Tablespoon of the olive oil in a saucepan, then add the shrimp shells.
3) Sauté the shells for a couple minutes until they turn pink.
4) Add three cups of water and the sea salt.
5) Cook the shrimp stock on medium-high for about 20 minutes, until about 1 cup of the liquid has evaporated.
6) Strain the liquid, and set aside for the grits.
Cook the grits
1) Heat the shrimp stock and milk over medium heat until it starts to bubble a little.
2) Turn the heat down to medium-low, and add the grits, stirring to combine.
3) Cook the grits, stirring occasionally, until the consistency is just a bit thinner than you want them.
4) Remove the grits from heat, and stir in the butter until incorporated.
5) Set aside until ready to serve. If they seem a little thick when ready to serve, stir in a couple splashes of milk.
Cook the shrimp
1) After peeling the shrimp, marinate it in the wine while you cook the other elements of the dish.
2) Cook the country ham in a pat of butter, just until cooked through. Remove from the pan and set aside.
3) Add the olive oil to the pan, then the onions, carrots, and celery.
4) Sauté the vegetables for about 5-8 minutes, until they start to brown at the edges.
5) Add the garlic, and cook for two more minutes.
6) Add the frozen spinach, and cook, stirring occasionally, until it is no longer frozen.
7) Add the capers, if desired, then the shrimp marinating in the wine.
8) Add the salt, pepper, lemon juice, and marjoram.
9) Chop the cooked ham into small pieces; stir into the shrimp mixture.
10) Cook the shrimp, stirring occasionally, until cooked through.Be careful not to overcook the shrimp.
11) Remove the pan from heat, and spoon the shrimp over a small mound of grits on each plate.
12) Sprinkle the crumbled cheese over to, if desired. Serve with hot sauce if you like a little heat.