There was a time when you could only get shrimp and grits at home or at a restaurant somewhere along the Gulf of Mexico north of the Florida-Georgia state line. The dish now is as prevalent in restaurants as other Southern delicacies, such as po’ boy sandwiches, red velvet cake and peach tea.
I would argue that shrimp and grits tastes better when made at home. Award-winning writers Matt and Ted Lee, affectionately known as The Lee Bros. in food circles, feature their latest version of the dish in their outstanding new book, “The Lee Bros. Charleston Kitchen” (Clarkson Potter, $35).
The Lees visited Tampa in May to promote the book, demonstrating several recipes at the Publix Apron’s Cooking School in Citrus Park and sampling local food at The Refinery in Tampa’s Seminole Heights neighborhood and Arco-Iris Café in West Tampa.
“Our own formula seems always to be evolving,” they write about the dish.
Their latest version is influenced by their desire to “keep the tomato inflection” in the recipe, and by a technique used at The Glass Onion in Charleston, which slices the shrimp in half lengthwise. Doing so makes the shrimp curl into corkscrews when they hit the sauté pan.
“Each shrimp piece is easier to eat in one bite, the twisted shape grabs more sauce and gives the overall impression of a lighter dish,” they write. “Especially if jumbo shrimp are the only ones available in your area, you’ll find this an appealing way to cook shrimp and grits.”
From the archive
All the talk of seafood reminded us of a recipe that ran in 2002 for Seafood Lasagna. It was submitted in August that year by Shirley Outen
of Plant City.
The previous Recipes Lost & Found stated that the Bubble Room in Captiva started in 1999. That was about 20 years off. The restaurant opened in 1979.
Leftover requests Denice Skipper-Jordan
of Tampa wants to make the basic pasta sauce, including “the wonderful crab meat sauce,” served at the former Pizza Parlor in Tampa.
of Tampa wants to make the salad dressing that was made tableside at Tio Pepe's restaurant in Clearwater. She also wants to know what type of lettuce was used.
wants the recipe for Circles Bistro's chicken Marsala with rice pilaf.
wants to make the spaghetti sauce and salad dressing recipes served at the now-closed Gus' Italian restaurants in Tampa.
wants the recipe for the mixed greens salad with vinaigrette and grilled chicken she used to enjoy at the now-closed El Pilon Restaurant in South Tampa.
Shrimp and Grits
1¼ pounds headless large (21 to 25 count) shell-on shrimp
1 bay leaf
¾ teaspoon sugar
1 pinch of cayenne
1 pound vine-ripened tomatoes, cored and quartered
1 teaspoon red wine vinegar, plus more to taste
4 ounces slab bacon, cut into large dice
1 lemon, halved
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
2 garlic cloves, minced
Freshly ground black pepper
Charleston Hominy (see following recipe)
Peel and devein the shrimp, reserving the shrimp in a bowl and the shells in a small saucepan. Add 2 cups of water, the bay leaf, ½ teaspoon kosher salt, ¼ teaspoon of the sugar, and the cayenne to the saucepan with the shells. With a spoon, tamp the shells down beneath the surface of the water, cover, and bring to a simmer over high heat. Uncover, turn the heat to medium low, and let the shrimp stock simmer until reduced by half, about 10 minutes.
Meanwhile, with a sharp knife, slice the shrimp in half lengthwise.
Put the tomatoes in a blender or food processor and add the vinegar, ½ teaspoon salt, and the remaining ½ teaspoon sugar. Process to a smooth purée, then strain through a fine sieve, pressing the skin and seeds to extract as much juice as possible. Discard the skin and seeds. You should have 1½ cups of tomato purée.
Scatter the bacon in a large sauté pan over medium-high heat and cook, stirring occasionally, until the bacon is alluringly browned and has rendered its fat, about 8 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the bacon to a small paper-towel-lined plate and cook the shrimp in the bacon fat in batches, taking care not to crowd the pan, and stirring occasionally, just until they’ve curled into corkscrews and turned pink, about 2 minutes; reserve on a plate. Squeeze half the lemon over the shrimp and sprinkle with 2 pinches of salt.
Strain the shrimp stock into the sauté pan, discarding the solids, and stir with a wooden spoon to pick up the tasty browned bits from the bottom of the pan. When the stock simmers, spoon off 2 tablespoons and then whisk them into the flour with a fork in a small bowl to make a paste. Add the tomato purée and the garlic to the pan, stir to combine, and then whisk the flour paste into the sauce. Cook until the mixture thickly coats the back of a spoon.
Cut the heat, and fold the shrimp in just to warm through. Season to taste with salt, black pepper and red wine vinegar. Cut the remaining lemon half into 4 wedges. Serve the shrimp over hot Charleston Hominy, and garnish with the reserved bacon and the lemon wedges.
Makes 3 cups
Time: 45 minutes
2 cups whole milk
1 cup stone-ground coarse grits
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
Pour the milk and 2 cups of water into a 2-quart saucepan, cover, and turn the heat to medium high. When the liquid simmers, add the grits, butter and ½ teaspoon salt, and reduce the heat to medium. Stir every couple of minutes until the grits have become fragrant and are the consistency of thick soup, about 8 minutes.
Reduce the heat to low and simmer, stirring often and ever more frequently, for about 20 minutes, by which time the bubbles will emerge infrequently as the grits have stiffened and fall lazily from the end of a spoon. Add ½ teaspoon black pepper and cook for about 10 minutes more, stirring constantly to prevent the thickened grits from scorching on the bottom of the pan (appoint someone to the stirring task if you have to step away — a scorched pot of grits is bitter and a total loss). If your grits thicken too quickly, or if they are too gritty for your taste, add water by the half cup, stirring to incorporate, and continue cooking until tender.
When the grits are stiff and stick well to the spoon, turn off the heat and stir. Season with salt and black pepper to taste and serve immediately.
½ cup butter
2 cloves garlic, crushed
½ cup flour
2 cups milk
2 cups chicken broth
1/3 cup dry white wine
2 cups Mozzarella cheese, shredded
1 teaspoon basil
½ cup green onions, chopped
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon black pepper
15 lasagna noodles, uncooked
1 cup cottage cheese, small curd
2/3 cup cooked shrimp, cut bite-size
2/3 cup cooked bay scallops,
2/3 cup crab meat, cut bite-size
½ cup grated Parmesan cheese, optional
Heat butter in a large saucepan over low heat until melted. Add garlic. Stir in flour. Cook, stirring constantly, until bubbly.
Remove from heat. Stir in milk, broth and white wine. Return to stove and heat to boiling, stirring constantly. Boil 1 minute. Add mozzarella cheese, basil, onions, salt and pepper.
Cook over low heat until cheese is melted, stirring constantly. Spread about 1½ cups of the sauce in an ungreased 9-by-13-inch pan.
Top with uncooked lasagna noodles, overlapping as needed. Spread cottage cheese over noodles. Spread with another 1½ cups sauce and then top with another 5 noodles. Spread shrimp, scallops and crab over layer and top with another 1½ cups sauce.
Cover with the last five lasagna noodles and top with all of the remaining sauce. If desired, top with ½ cup grated Parmesan cheese.
Bake uncovered at 350 degrees, 35 to 45 minutes, or until noodles are tender. Let stand for 15 minutes before cutting.