In an effort to remind me of where I came from, my mother likes to send me various southern foods, and so I have compiled a nice stock of grits in my cupboard. And to give me a little inspiration she also sent me a Shrimp and Grits cookbook that contains an absurd amount of variations on the traditional theme. Where to begin!? After my mom called me up to tell me about the wonderful vegan recipe they tried during the 4th of July, I decided I had to explore my roots, exercise my culinary skills, and have something and have something to compete with.
While I was visiting home seemed like the best time to experiment so we dove into making the citrus and butter shrimp with lemongrass grits. My choice. Everything about it was delicious. The flavors aren’t too complicated and the reward is great. It is however a bit of a process. You must first boil down the lemongrass shrimp stock using lemongrass, coriander root, kaffir lime leaves, ginger, and shrimp stock. The shrimp should be fresh and moderately sized and can be shelled or not. If shelled they need less time in the oven. We decided to shell them because it really is just easier that way, and then they baked underneath some sliced oranges, lemons, and big dollops of garlic butter while the grits boiled in the lemongrass stock.
The grits absorb the richness and slight spice of the broth and the buttery citrus garlic flavor of the shrimp creates a light medley in your mouth. A little garnish and the baked orange and lemon slices round out the color and flavors.
We added a vinho verde to the meal that was light and crisp, a good compliment to the citrus and lemongrass elements. And for a little ambiance, Stéphane Grapelli radio on Pandora, a daddy Dinkel selection. The old time french jazz swung around the room, the shrimp nearly dancing out of the bowl. It was a perfect home cooked southern meal.
In case you were wondering:
Grits is (yes it is singular) a Native American ground corn food adopted by the southern states. Different areas have different ways of preparing it, but the addition of shrimp is common throughout the coastal low country: North Carolina, Virginia, South Carolina, Mississippi, Louisiana, Georgia, and Alabama. Typically it is a breakfast dish, but everyone knows breakfast can be dinner.
The recipe book we used is “Shrimp & Grits Cookbook” by Nathalie Dupree