Growing up in the Midwest, I never had Shrimp and Grits. I really do not recall even seeing it on a menu. In fact I’m thinking that it would have probably been “Shrimp and Mashed Potatoes” in the Midwest. But, since moving to Maryland several years ago and spending more time in the Carolinas, I have come across Shrimp and Grits and seem to order and enjoy them at every opportunity. So I decided it was time to try and make it for myself.
This meal was also a good challenge to pair a wine with, more on that below.
For the Shrimp
- 1.5 lbs Shrimp (peeled and deveined with tails on)
- 3 links (a little less than a pound) of Andouille sausage chopped into small chunks
- 1 Vidalia Onion minced
- 1 Garlic clove minced
- 2 tbl Olive Oil
- 1/4 cup All-Purpose Flour
- 2 cups Chicken Stock
- 2 Bay Leaves
- 1 tsp Thyme
- 1/4 tsp Cayenne Pepper
- 1/2 tsp Freshly Ground Black Pepper
- Tabasco Sauce (about 4 shakes)
Heat the Olive Oil in a deep skillet over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic and saute about 3 minutes until they soften. Add the sausage and cook, stirring frequently until the sausage is brown. Try to stir often enough so that the onions and garlic do not burn. Sprinkle in the flour and stir to create a roux. Slowly stir in the chicken broth. Once the liquid begins bubble, add the bay leaves, thyme, cayenne and black pepper. Then add the shrimp and cook. Be careful not to cook the shrimp too long or they will get tough.
For the Grits
I used Quick Cooking Grits (not Instant) and followed the package instructions. The instructions called for water, but I substituted Heavy Cream for 2/3 of the liquid and Milk for the other 1/3. I also added 2 tbl of Butter once the Grits were done (because butter makes everything better!).
I put a mound of Grits in the center of a large dinner bowl, then ladled the Shrimp, Sausage, Sauce all over the Grits and finished it with a sprinkle of Sea Salt.
Beware that this is a dish where both things cook quickly and need to get done at the same time, so it helps to have a helper!
What Went Right
Yumm, this dish was good and wholesome! There were layered flavors and a little heat but not too much. I was full after one serving but couldn’t stop myself from having a second.
What Went Wrong
Lack of self-control.
What I Would Do Differently
I believe adding the spices (bay leaves, cayenne & black pepper, tabasco) earlier in the process, with the onions and garlic would have given the dish more flavor. Also, I cooked the roux for only a few minutes, so it was a light brown color. I will probably cook it a little longer, perhaps to a medium brown to give it a little more flavor.
This meal presented a unique wine paring opportunity. On one hand, you have shrimp, cream and grits – all mild foods you would normally pair a white wine with. But it also had the andouille sausage, pepper and tabasco, which would normally call for a spicy red wine. So I decided to try both and compare the two wines to see which one went better with the dish. Here are the wines I selected:
White Wine – 2010 Tablas Creek Vineyard – Patelin de Tablas Blanc – Paso Robles, CA. This is a white Rhone blend containing Grenache Blanc, Viognier, Roussanne and Marsanne. If you have not tried Rhone white wines from the California Central Coast, I urge you to check them out. They are great alternatives to Chardonnay and much better with food (at least for my tastes).
Red Wine – 2008 Tercero Wines – Cuvee Christie – Santa Barbara County, CA. This is a red Rhone blend containing Grenache, Syrah and Mourvedre. These are typically called “GSM” wines and you see them from Australia, California, etc. Again these are really great food wines and I find these wines from Tercero to be very drinkable and also a great value. Check out their lineup here: http://tercerowines.com/
I was expecting that one wine would stand out and that it would probably be the red. However, both wines were really good with the dish. The white provided a nice refreshment from the heavy and spicy flavors, cooling the palate. The acidity and weight of the wine kept it from disappearing when taking a bite of the Shrimp and Grits. The red really stood up to the flavors in the dish and added a nice fruity compliment. The acidity and soft tannins paired particularly well with the andouille sausage. Not able to choose one winner, we had to finish both bottles with the meal (oh the price of research!) Further proof that there are no hard and fast rules in wine and that you should experiment to find flavors you like.
Give the Shrimp and Grits a try and let me know how it turns out! And let me know if you find other wine pairings that you enjoy with it.