Let her cook: Shrimp and grits make for a tasty Friday fast

“Push back against the age as hard as it pushes against you,” counseled Flannery O’Connor. No better way to do that, in my experience, than to live liturgically. Why settle for the meager roster of state-sanctioned holidays to punctuate daily drudgery when we can find more frequent and meaningful repose in the traditional Christian cycle of fasting and feasting?

In my family, this is the reason we try to abstain from meat on Fridays. Still, Friday is the end of the week, and I want to feed my husband and children something we can all eagerly anticipate. The following recipe blends a bit of my Southern culture with my Catholic culture. Like last week’s Charleston summer salad, it’s a foolproof favorite.

Ingredients — Grits:

  • 3 cups chicken stock
  • 30g (3 scoops) zen gelatin
  • 1tbsp “Better than Bouillon” chicken flavor
  • 1 cup coarsely ground grits
  • 2 cups half and half
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 1 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese (I like Kerrygold)
  • Pepper to taste

Ingredients — Shrimp:

  • 4 pounds uncooked shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • 3 tsp garlic salt
  • 1 pinch cayenne pepper, or to taste
  • 1 medium lemon, juiced
  • 1 medium green bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 medium red bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 medium yellow bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 chopped onion
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • ¼ cup butter
  • ¼ cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup chicken broth
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce

Directions — Grits:

  1. Bring 2 cups chicken stock and “Better than Bouillon” to a boil in a heavy saucepan over medium-high heat
  2. To the side, allow gelatin to bloom in the remaining 1 cup of stock.
  3. When the stock comes to a boil, add the fully bloomed gelatin and incorporate fully. Make sure you don’t have any lumps of gelatin. Allow it to bloom completely; using a whisk can help.
  4. Whisk grits into the boiling stock and allow to return to boil.
  5. Whisk in half and half. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer, stirring every few minutes, until grits are thickened and tender, 15 to 20 minutes.
  6. Remove from heat. Set aside and keep warm.

Directions — Shrimp:

  1. Season shrimp with garlic salt and cayenne pepper. Add lemon juice, toss to combine, and set aside to marinate.
  2. Sauté onion, garlic, and bell peppers in a tablespoon of butter and a splash of olive oil until onion is translucent, about 8 minutes.
  3. Add marinated shrimp into the skillet with the cooked vegetables and toss. (You won’t fully cook them just now.) Turn off the heat and set aside.
  4. Melt butter in a small saucepan over medium heat. Whisk in flour, stirring to create a smooth roux. Turn heat to low and cook, stirring constantly until mixture is golden brown in color, 8 to 10 minutes. Watch carefully — the mixture burns easily.
  5. Pour the roux over the contents of the skillet: shrimp and vegetables.
  6. Place the skillet back over medium heat, add chicken broth and Worcestershire sauce, and stir to combine. Cook until sauce thickens up and shrimp turn opaque and bright pink, about 8 minutes.
  7. Just before serving, mix cheddar cheese into grits; stir until cheese is melted and stringy and the grits are creamy and light yellow.
  8. Spoon grits onto plates and serve shrimp mixture over top.


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