SHRIMP AND GRITS from the Dixie Grill in Wilmington, NC is most assuredly one of the foods in Heaven.
This dish is so much greater than the sum of it's parts. Frankly, a bowl of white grits with some shrimp plopped on top sounds downright yucky.
This dish is creamy and yet allows the 'al dente' quality of stone ground yellow corn to shine through. Provolone cheese and cream combine to hold everything together without being "in your face" cheesy.
Add some tiny bits of Carolina smoked ham and a fair amount of tender Carolina shrimp and then top it with diced fresh tomatoes and chives . . . perfection!
I have tried to put words to something truly indescribable, and was lucky enough to try it first at a place touted by the New York Times as "THE" place for morning shrimp and grits.
A search for recipes yielded a disappointing list of the "cook the grits and plop the shrimp on top" type. Even Paula Dean let me down here.
The closest recipe I can find without any testing (we are in a truck after all) seems to be this one from "a chef in Pensacola" found on a barbecue forum. Besides that - I love the name:
GRITS A YAYA
Smoked Gouda Cheese Grits:
1 quart chicken stock
1 cup heavy cream
1 pound Dixie Lily grits
1/4 pound butter
1 pound shredded smoked Gouda cheese
The Ya Ya:
8 strips applewood-smoked bacon, diced
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1 tablespoon minced shallots
3 tablespoons butter
1 pound peeled and de-veined jumbo shrimp
1 portobello mushroom cap, sliced
1/4 cup diced scallions
2 cups chopped fresh spinach
2 cups heavy cream
3 cups smoked Gouda cheese grits
Salt, pepper and hot sauce to taste
First, make your grits. Run the chicken stock into a thick-bottomed saucepan and turn on high till it boils. Mix in the grits and stir like crazy. Reduce to a simmer and allow to cook for 40 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add cream if you need more liquid. Then tumble in the butter, drizzle in the rest of the cream and stir till it's all in the family. Then shake in the shredded cheese and stir very well till it's all nice and smooth.
While your grits cook, bring a large saucepan to medium heat. Add bacon and cook for about 3 minutes, then add garlic and shallots. Sauté and then add butter and a splash of white wine. When the butter is half melted, add the shrimp. When the downsides of the shrimp become white, flip them and add mushrooms, scallions and spinach. Sauté for 2 minutes. Remove the shrimp. Pour in heavy cream and let simmer while stirring. When reduced by one third, add salt, pepper and hot sauce. Return shrimp to the sauce and combine. Spoon the sauce and shrimp onto heaping mounds of cheese grits.
I would change this a bit by maybe adjusting the amount and variety of
cheese. Stirring it all together before serving and then topping with the tomatoes and chives would also be an option. I do like the sounds of the spinach in the YaYa though.
So, there it is. I have the stone ground corn on board and will give this recipe a tryout the next time we are home.
Until then. I'll keep hoping we get to Wilmington on a regular basis.
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