Tuesday, February 05, 2013

Most of life's hardships can be soothed with some spicy shrimp and grits.

Even though the semester just started, things are already crazy. After a week of temperatures that hovered just above or dipped below zero, we had a pipe burst in the kitchen. So we've had Roto Rooter in and out of the house last week.

And in truly tragic news, one of our cats has a malignant inoperable tumor under his chin, and he may have just a short time left. The vet prescribed antibiotics to treat a secondary infection, and if we can clear that up and get him to eat, we'll try to keep him comfortable until it appears that his quality of life has diminished. Poor old Shmoopy, who is not even that old, maybe eight or nine (he was a barn drop-off at the old house). He has always been such a lovely, sophisticated gentlemen...that is, until I tried to give him his medication with a syringe in his sore mouth. So now I'm sporting a painful bite on one of my pinkies, and a couple of lacerations to the face as well.

The straw that nearly broke my camel's back was when the same d*mn pipe froze again today! But bless my dear roomie's heart: Not only did she come home from work at lunchtime to thaw out the frozen pipe, she made THIS glorious meal of Spicy Shrimp and Andouille Sausage with Cheesy Grits for our dinner! ALL HAIL CYD, my hero!

Shrimp and Grits
(Source: Bon Appétit)

1 cup yellow grits (not instant)
1 cup grated sharp white cheddar
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 jalapeño, seeded, diced
1/4 cup heavy cream 
Kosher salt, freshly ground pepper
1/2 cup 1/3" cubes tasso, andouille sausage, or bacon
1 tablespoon vegetable oil (optional)
3 garlic cloves, sliced
2 tablespoons (1/4 stick) butter, divided
16 large shrimp (about 1 pound), peeled, deveined
1/4 cup (or more) beer
1/4 cup low-salt chicken stock
4 large eggs, optional                                           
1 tablespoon chopped fresh tarragon                                            

Bring three cups water to a simmer in a large saucepan. Gradually whisk in grits. Turn heat to low; gently simmer until grits begin to thicken. Continue cooking, stirring often and adding water by 1/4 cupfuls if too thick, until tender, about one hour. Stir in cheese, butter, and jalapeño, then cream. Season with salt and pepper. Keep warm.

Meanwhile, heat a large heavy skillet over medium heat. Add tasso; sauté until fat begins to render, about five minutes (if tasso is very lean, add one tablespoon oil to skillet). Add garlic and one tablespoon butter; stir until butter melts. Add shrimp. When garlic begins to brown, add beer and chicken stock. Simmer until shrimp is cooked through, about two minutes. Remove skillet from heat; set aside.
Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add remaining 1 tablespoon butter to skillet; swirl to melt and cover bottom of pan. Crack eggs into pan and cook until whites are just set but yolks are still runny, about three minutes. (We did not top the dish with eggs this time, though I'm sure it would be yummy.)

Divide grits among bowls, forming a well in center. Spoon shrimp mixture into center of grits. Top with egg. Sprinkle tarragon over.  (We omitted this because the fresh tarragon in our grocery stores looked awful. So we topped the dish with a drizzle of leftover salsa verde.)

Follow-Up (2/9/13): For an awesome brunch made with leftovers, form patties with cold cheesy grits and fry in a little butter. Top with poached eggs, and serve with salsa verde, and some grilled smoked sausage on the side. DELISH!

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