A maybe not so Southern Shrimp + Grits

After almost twenty years of living in the South, you'd think I'd master a Southern recipe or two. Truth be told, for a long time, there haven't been a whole lot of Southerners left in this urban town to show me the way. Edna Lewis and Scott Peacock were the "soul" food survivors trying to keep the culture alive. Thank goodness that is no longer the case. Southern Foodways Alliance is an advocate for celebrating the diversity of the South, Georgia Organics is honoring hard-working farmers and the art of Southern agriculture, and local chefs are putting it on our plate. It is a Southern revival of the finest kind.

I am experimenting with cooking Southern food in my own way, mostly by accident and appreciation. I might come across an indigenous ingredient found at the farmer's market. When I taste something I love at a local restaurant, I might try to recreate it in my own kitchen. The food I cook will always have a flavor of the Meditterranean lingering in the pot. It makes for interesting and new recipe renditions. This past week, one of my friends had a special request for my polenta-grits recipe. I decided to up the anty and fix her some shrimp to go with those not-so-Southern grits. This recipe is what I came up. I hope you enjoy my version of this Southern classic dish.

A mix of deep yellow, coarse textured Italian polenta with the snow white powder-fine locally milled white corn makes for the most creamy, corn-flavored grits.

2# fresh shrimp, shells removed and cut into bite-size pieces
1 cup vegetable or chicken broth
4 ounces guanciale, cut into 1/4 inch pieces
1 Tablespoon unsalted butter
2 large handfuls of fresh okra
1 ear of fresh corn
1/2 cup white wine

In a small saucepan, heat the shells with the broth and simmer for 10-15 minutes. Strain out the shells and reserved the broth for the shrimp recipe. In a large saute' pan, heat the guanciale over low heat. Render out the fat until the guanciale pieces are crisped and browned. With a slotted spoon, remove the guanciale pieces from the pan and onto a plate. Set aside until ready to use. In the same pan, using the rendered fat, turn the heat the heat to medium high. Add the butter and when it is melted and foamy, add the okra and corn to the pan. Saute until the okra is tender and easily pierced with a fork, but not mushy. {a little browning is good}. Add the shrimp and cook for 2-3 more minutes, until the shrimp is pink and translucent. Deglaze the pan with the wine and cook for another minute. Add the broth and cook for another few minutes. Fold in the guanciale. Serve over the grits.

4 cups water + 1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup fine-milled white grits + 1/2 cup Italian polenta
2 Tablespoons unsalted butter
1 cup Parmesan cheese, grated
1 cup cheddar cheese, grated
salt and pepper

In a large saucepan, heat the water and salt over medium heat until boiling. Sprinkle in the grits and polenta mixture.
Stir continuously with a whisk for about 10-15 minutes, or until the grits are creamy and tender. {Whisking will keep lumps from forming and the bottom of the pan from sticking.} Add the butter and cheese and stir until well-blended. Taste for seasoning. Serve immediately with the shrimp.

Serves four to six.

Buon appetito!
copyright 2009 Alisa Barry


TaC studios, architects said...

Jose and I were craving comfort food on Sunday night~ so we made shrimp and grits! After we were done, I felt that our recipe was missing something---white wine & cheddar! It needed that tart taste. Thanks for the help- cara

Alisa Barry said...

HI Cara,

great to hear from you. How fun that we were making the same dish on the same day! Say hello to Jose for me. It's time for a dinner together.