Saturday, August 21, 2010

Shrimp and Grits with Summer Veggies

This dish was amazing! I can't believe how great it tasted, especially considering I had no idea how I was going to do it when I came up with the idea this morning after breakfast.

So there is no recipe. I just used what I had in the icebox, but I think I can walk back through what I did.

I started by making some shrimp stock. This is one of those times when I'm glad I'm one of those weird people who save various and sundry animal parts to make stock from scratch. I really think it made all the difference in this dish. I had 2 quart ziplock bags of shrimp shells in the freezer, so I put them in a 2 quart sauce pan and filled it with water up to within an inch of the top. I put it on the heat and added 1 bay leaf, 4 smashed cloves of garlic (I didn't bother peeling it), a few stalks of celery, the heal of an onion and a few whole peppercorns. I brought it to a boil, then cut it back to simmer for about half an hour. If you had time, you could simmer it longer and concentrate it more, but I didn't.

I used 3 cups of the hot stock to make 4 servings of instant grits. Yes, I said instant grits. Don't give me any crap. I'm a busy person. :) After the grits cooked, I added 4 pats of organic butter, 2 tablespoons of cream cheese and about 3 glugs of organic heavy cream. I stirred it all together, put the lid back on and moved it to the back of the stove until everything else was ready.

I put about 3 tablespoons of olive oil, 1 tablespoon of bacon drippings and 2 pats of butter in my 12 inch skillet. I know, it sounds like a ton of fat, but when you're using flour to thicken something, there has to be fat, or it won't thicken. Anyhoo- I turned the pan on medium heat and rough chopped about 1/2 of a huge sweet onion. Then I added half of a polska kielbasa smoked sausage, sliced. I let the onion and sausage sizzle around for about 5 minutes, then I added a yellow squash, sliced in half moons, about 5 baby bella mushrooms, sliced, swiss chard, leaves and stems chopped, and about a dozen grape tomatoes. I let all the veggies cook down for about 10 minutes. After that, I put about 1/2 a pound of small frozen shrimp (raw) right out of the bag, I didn't even defrost them. After a couple of minutes, I deglazed the pan with some Vermouth. When the shrimp looked almost done, I added about a 1/4 cup of flour and mixed it around, letting it cook for about 1 minute or so. Then I added about 3/4 of a cup of warm shrimp stock and stirred it constantly until it began to thicken. It didn't take long, because the pan was still on medium heat. At that point I added several shakes of Frank's Red Hot sauce and about 1/4 cup of heavy cream. It was all looking rich and creamy and thick and yummie. I tasted it and added some salt and pepper and more hot sauce, then took it off the heat. At that point it was time for the ingredient that would take this whole mess over the top- dry sherry. I added just a few glugs to the pan and stirred it in.

I put some of the grits in the bottom of the bowl, then spooned on the veggie/shrimp/sausage mixture. I topped it with asiago cheese toasts.

The only change I'd make for next time is to use spicier sausage. I think anduille would be better, because the sauce would have better depth of flavor.

But just as it didn't suck! :)

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