Shrimp & Grits
When I was growing up, my mom always made sausage and grits for breakfast on her days off. When I found out there was a dish called "Shrimp & Grits" I knew I needed to make my own. The earliest memory I have of this dish was on an episode of "Throwdown with Bobby Flay". In this episode, Bobby went to Georgia to challenge a Southern expert of the dish. I don't remember who won, but I do know that Bobby's was non-traditional (as are many of his dishes) and I knew it'd be okay if mine was too.
The Shrimp Seasoning
I believe all seasonings should be to your taste, but these are my basics for any Cajun seasoning I do. Something you should know about me, I like it spicy.
1. For two pounds of shrimp, no more than a tablespoon of each spice will do, but use a teaspoon of salt and ground sage.
2. Let this marinate for at least six hours so the flavors can develop.
Just as in the episode of "Throwdown", I think that it's mandatory to have meat with your shrimp and grits. I steer clear of pork, so my meat of choice is typically a chicken sausage. Johnsonville has a really good Cajun chicken sausage that pairs well with this, and also an andouille sausage would work perfectly. I can't always find good chicken sausages so I just got a roasted garlic chicken sausage.
3. I cut it into thin strips before frying in the pan. Note: Traditionally in the South, they use some kind of ham or bacon, the choice is yours.
4. Cook the shrimp in the same pan the sausage was fried in to use the leftover fat for flavor.
Cooking the Grits
Now for the grits, I really can't guide you on how to cook them, I've never been an expert. My mom was always the best at making grits, at least technique-wise. They were never too solid and just the right thickness. For a while there, my grits were always either too salty, too runny or too lumpy. Then, when I was watching the Food Network and saw polenta, I told myself the texture of the grits depends on your preference. I will share, however, that I love my grits creamy so when I'm cooking it, I use water, milk and butter.
You can season grits however you like as well. They're pretty much a canvas similar to rice or another type of grain. To season my grits, I mainly stick to salt. And near the end, when the food was almost prepared, I added parmesan and Colby Jack cheese. Grits are great, but they're nothing without cheese.
One of my favorite add-ins for starches is some sort of onion component, so I typically top something like this with scallions. You can also use chives if you'd like.
Shrimp & Grits is the perfect dish to cook for people who have never tried grits before and is skeptical about it. A plus is that this dish can be served for any meal of the day, so I encourage you to try it for any occasion!