Back in 2007, I received an e-mail that a fellow Notre Dame alum would be moving to D.C. for a fellowship at the National Institutes of Health and was looking for housing. Although I had no idea who this kid was, I got in touch with the guy and offered him the ratty pull out couch at my old house as a place to crash while he looked for more permanent housing. Looking back, I now see that this may not have been a good idea and could have been one ingredient in a recipe for murder, but in reality it was one of the best things I have done in my life.
During his stay with me, this kid, Ben, and I discovered our mutual love of food and drink. Ben ended up renting an apartment several miles north of me at the D.C.-Maryland border, but since we were on the same metro line a few stops away from each other we hung out a lot, trying out various restaurants, ordering gimlets and manhattans at many a bars, and opening many a bottle of wine. During his first stay in D.C., Ben and I would spend most of every Sunday together. We would start by going to 10:00am Latin mass at St. Matthews Cathedral, followed by a trip to the Dupont Farmers Market or the Friendship Heights Whole Foods. Then we would eat some pate and/or cheese with a French baguette that we had procured before taking a much needed break from each other. Then, later that afternoon Ben would come down to my house and we would make an elaborate Sunday dinner complete with the consumption of at least one bottle of wine. Ben was my first regular cooking companion and together, we have made and eaten a lot of good food throughout our friendship. I only regret that I did not think of documenting it all at the time.
One of the recipes Ben suggested way back when was for a version of shrimp and grits he found while perusing Epicurious.com. I was initially skeptical of embarking on such an endeavor. How could an Asian-American girl from California and a boy from Iowa do justice to an iconic Southern dish? Ben eventually managed to persuade me to put aside my reservations and attempt the dish. We had access to all the ingredients and were adept cooks, so although the end result may not be authentic it would at least be delicious.
Nearly five years later, Ben’s discovery of this shrimp and grits recipe is one of my favorite dishes to make for my friends and guests. What’s not to love? Shrimp = delicious; andouille+onions, bell peppers, and garlic with a touch of Old Bay = delicious; shallots+hot sauce,+heavy cream = delicious; cornmeal+chicken broth+whole milk+heavy cream = delicious. So while this may not be the most authentic shrimp and grits recipe of all time, it is guaranteed to be delicious.
Spicy Shrimp with Andouille Sausage and Grits (adapted from Bon Appetit Magazine)
1/3 cup green hot pepper sauce, to taste (such as Tabasco)
1/4 cup dry white wine
1 shallot, chopped
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon rice vinegar
1 cup whipping cream
3 cups whole milk
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
2 cups corn grits1/4 cup olive oil
8 ounces smoked andouille sausage
1 red bell pepper, chopped
1 yellow bell pepper, chopped
1/2 cup minced onion
4 garlic cloves, chopped
30 uncooked large shrimp, peeled, deveined
4 plum tomatoes, chopped
1 teaspoon Cajun seasoning
1 teaspoon Old Bay seasoning
Combine hot pepper sauce, wine, shallot, lemon juice and vinegar in heavy medium saucepan. Boil over medium heat until reduced to 1/2 cup, about 15 minutes. Stir in 1/2 cup cream. (Can be made 1 day ahead. Cover and refrigerate.)
Bring 1/2 cup cream, 5 cups water, milk and butter to simmer in heavy medium saucepan. Gradually whisk in grits. Simmer until grits are very soft and thickened, stirring frequently, about 1 hour.
Meanwhile, heat olive oil in heavy medium skillet over medium heat. Add sausage, both bell peppers, onion and garlic; sauté until vegetables are tender, about 8 minutes.
Add shrimp, tomatoes, Cajun seasoning and Old Bay seasoning and sauté until shrimp are opaque in center, about 6 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Bring hot pepper-cream sauce to simmer. Spoon grits onto 6 plates, dividing equally. Spoon shrimp mixture over grits. Drizzle hot pepper-cream sauce over and serve.