Shrimp and Grits
- Using a double boiler is best as they do stick like gum. First heat the liquids to bath water hot, then add the grits and stir continuously for a couple of minutes. Season with a small amount of salt, pop on the lid and bring up to a simmer. Then turn down, keep stirring every few minutes, even if in a double boiler.
- Boil the kettle and keep warm water at hand as you will need more most likely before they are done. Depending on the type they will take at least 45 mins or up to an hour and half.
- Once done add a glorious knob of butter and season to taste with salt and pepper - they should have a nice stirring consistency.
- For the shrimp you will need a medium heavy-bottomed saucepan, a fine sieve, a small saucepan, a large non-stick fry pan, tongs, and a whisk.
- Peel the prawns and put them back in the fridge til later; hang on to the shells, as these are the tasty essential to your sauce.
- Heat a tablespoon of olive oil in the saucepan over a medium heat, add the shrimp shells and stir about till they have all turned pink. Next add the celery, onions, garlic, bay leaves, thyme, lemon peel and a good grinding of the pepper and a pinch of salt. Cover with a lid and sweat down gently til all veg are soft - about five minutes. Once all soft, take the lid off, whack up the heat to full and throw in the generous splash of brandy, sherry or bourbon. If you can light this so it flames (mind your eyebrows) you are now justified in having a wee nip of whatever booze you used to calm your nerves after near eye brow loss.
- Now add in the tomato paste and stir, fill with enough water to cover the whole lot by about an inch, bring up to the boil and turn down to a simmer. Leave blipping away with the occasional stir for about half an hour. Good cuppa moment.
- Taste the stock now, it should be lovely and strong and full flavouored. Reduce by whacking up the heat if necessary, you need about 1.5 cups worth. Season to taste. Once happy with it strain through the sieve into a clean saucepan and put on a low heat to keep warm.
- Mash the soft butter and flour together in a bowl til fully combined; this is called beurre manie or literally 'kneaded butter'. Whisk it into the hot stock a little at a time until you have a thick silky sauce. If you have any of the paste left keep in the fridge for another sauce thickening emergency. Leave on a gentle simmer to cook out the flour taste while you move on to cooking the prawns.
- Now heat a small amount of olive oil in the frying pan and on a medium-high heat brown all the bacon bits, move to one side of the pan then turn it down to medium- low. Seal the prawns in the pan, turning halfway through cooking, being careful not to overcook them. No one wants prawny bullets and they literally will cook in around 90 – 120 seconds.
- Sprinkle over some of the red chilli flakes and toss all together, adding in enough of the thickened stock to make a lovely silky mix. Serve nestled on top of a pile of the buttery grits and scatter over the sliced spring onions. Eat. Feel better about life.
Try pairing this dish with a good American Pale Ale.