On our recent trip to Dewees Island, we enjoyed the proximity to fresh seafood. On a recent trip to Whole Foods, not so much.
Looking for a way to dispose of some of our bounty of farm share tomatoes, we had been talking about taking a shot at recreating a dish we liked at Slightly North of Broad (SNOB) in Charleston called “Maverick Shrimp & Grits.” It added tomatoes, sausage, onions, garlic and country ham to the classic Low Country dish. Steve finally visited a meat market in Crestwood (a run-down old railroad depot near Gourmandistan’s Kentucky home) for some locally-cured country ham. Unwrapping the shrimp we bought at Whole Foods, we were reminded we are nowhere near any shore where really good shrimp might be found. Using much less shrimp than called for in a recipe found in an online depository for the lamentably departed Gourmet Magazine, we added some okra we’d come upon at a farmers’ market and a bit more sausage to compensate for the mediocre shrimp, making our dish more like Sausage and Grits.
While it ended up as a sort of sausagy, slightly shrimpy salute to burgoo, at least our yellow grits were from Charleston. When we return to the shore, this dish may reappear in Gourmandistan. And quite possibly will have more shrimp.
NOT EXACTLY SHRIMP AND GRITS
(adapted from SNOB’s recipe in Gourmet Magazine)
- 2 servings grits, cooked according to package directions
- 1 fresh andouille sausage (about 4 oz.), meat removed from casing
- 2 TB butter
- 1/4 c. julienned country ham
- 5 or 6 okra pods, sliced into thin circles
- 1/4 cup thinly sliced onion (preferably a young one)
- 2 or 3 garlic cloves, minced
- 8-10 medium shrimp, peeled and deveined
- Generous pinch of Creole spice blend (such as this one)
- 1/4 cup peeled, seeded and diced fresh tomato
- Splash of water
- Scallions for garnish
While grits are cooking, fry sausage meat in a small skillet, breaking up with a spatula. Remove from heat while meat is still somewhat pink. Drain excess fat and set aside.
Melt half the butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Sauté ham in butter until it just barely begins to brown. Add okra and onion, tossing with a spatula. After a minute or two, add garlic and sausage. When okra is nearly cooked (and perhaps a little browned), add remaining tablespoon of butter. Then add shrimp and sauté, tossing, for a couple of minutes. Add spice blend, then stir in tomato and water. Sauté, scraping the bottom of the skillet, until shrimp are cooked through.
Serve over grits (to which some butter and a splash of cream are added at the end of cooking time, if desired). Garnish with chopped scallions.