I’ve made a lot of shrimp and grits in my time. It was good the first time I made it. Once you understand the tips and tricks, it’s not hard to make it tasty. But I’ve always tried to reach for shrimp and grits perfection, so I’ve tweaked my recipe a lot over the years.
I become impatient when it comes to making things like grits/polenta, risotto, etc. So, I’ve figured out a way to make the grits with a minimum of stirring and babysitting. The addition of copious amounts of dairy products elevates this part of the dish to an extravagantly delicious level.
The most important thing to remember when making the shrimp/sausage element is to layer the flavors. If you dump everything in one pan and sauté it at the same time, the cooking is uneven, the flavor is one-dimensional, and you are left with a mediocre tasting, steamed version of a potentially delicious dish. You can use one pan for almost all of the ingredients (the only exception is a smaller skillet, which is used for the shrimp and the roux). Sautéing and removing the different ingredients from the pan gives you the chance to season at each stage and to brown or cook each ingredient exactly how it should be cooked.
I also find that a quick marinating of the shrimp elevates its flavor far more than if you just threw them in a pan with some oil. A very important note: don’t overcook the shrimp! This is the most common mistake I see with shrimp. These little gems need a lot less cooking than you think, especially since they are going to get a little more cooking time as they’re added to the rest of the ingredients. When sautéing, get the pan nice and hot, then add the oil, then quickly place the shrimp in the pan. By the time you’ve gotten the last shrimp in there, it’s time to start flipping them to the other side. A nice golden brown color takes only a few minutes. Remove them from the pan immediately, or they’ll continue cooking, and you’ll have little rubber disks instead of tender, juicy morsels.
These extra steps take a little more time, but they are well worth it. After all, if you’re going to the trouble to make this dish, wouldn’t you want to pull out all the stops to make it the best it can be? Which leads me to my next point: this is a restaurant-quality dish, and it is appropriate to serve at a dinner party. Just remember that you have to serve this dish immediately, otherwise the grits start to firm up and won’t be nearly as creamy and delicious. It’s probably best to keep your guest numbers low if you’re going to serve this to guests. This way, you can control the timing better and you’ll have a better chance of turning out a perfect product.
I made this recently for my family, and they (and I) sighed with contentment and satisfaction. I know you will, too!