Shrimp & Grits for two

This is my adaptation of a Food Network Tyler Florence recipe.

1 cups chicken stock
1/2 cup stone-ground white cornmeal
1/2 cup heavy cream (optional see Scott’s Notes)
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

1 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 medium white onion, minced
1 garlic clove, minced
2 links spicy sausage, cut in chunks
1 tablespoon Dry Roux or all purpose flour
1 1/2 cups chicken stock
1 bay leaf
3/4 pounds large shrimp, peeled and deveined, tails on
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoons finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
1 green onion, white and green part, chopped
1 tsp. dried thyme and/or 1 tsp. Cajun or Creole Spice (Scott’s addition)

To make the grits, place a 3-quart pot over medium-high heat. Add the chicken stock and bring to a boil. Slowly whisk in the cornmeal. When the grits begin to bubble, turn the heat down to medium low and simmer, stirring frequently with a wooden spoon. Allow to cook for 10 to 15 minutes, until the mixture is smooth and thick. Remove from heat and stir in the cream and butter, season with salt and pepper.

To make the shrimp, place a deep skillet over medium heat and coat with the olive oil. Add the onion and garlic; sauté for 2 minutes to soften. Add the sausage and cook, stirring, until there is a fair amount of fat in the pan and the sausage is brown. Sprinkle in the flour and stir with a wooden spoon to create a roux. Slowly pour in the chicken stock and continue to stir to avoid lumps. Toss in the bay leaf, thyme & Cajun Spice. Simmer for a while, 45 minutes if you have the time, if not you may need to use a bit more dry roux or flour to thicken.

Once the sauce is thickened add the shrimp. Cook the shrimp in the stock for 2 to 3 minutes, until they are firm and pink and the gravy is smooth and thick. Season with salt and pepper; stir in the most of parsley and green onion. Spoon the grits into a serving bowl. Add the shrimp mixture and optionally, mix well. (I don’t mix.) Top with remaining parsley. Serve immediately.

Scott’s Notes: This dish is easy and very good. I add a little Thyme to it for better flavor. I also used more stock and cooked it longer for more depth of flavor. You can easily omit the cream from the grits and it’s still tasty. Just thin the grits with water or more stock.

You could easily use boxed grits instead of the cornmeal. Just make according to directions, using stock instead of water.

Weeknight Gumbo for Two

I made a batch of Andouille Sausage a few months ago that wasn’t quite right. I think I smoked them too long and they dried out. So, they’re not really great to eat alone. So, I’ve been slowly using them up making this recipe. Not sure what a true Cajun or Creole would think of this recipe, but I suspect they wouldn’t disapprove too much. It’s a quick and easy one that is pretty satisfying even without the longer simmering. I usually have everything in the house or freezer for this. One of my variations that I also do when I make étouffée is to use double the amount of vegetables than the usual.

1 Andouille Sausage, sliced, or any sausage you like
8 Shrimp (21-25 per pound)
1/2 medium onion, chopped
1/2 large green pepper, chopped
2 stalks celery, chopped
1-2 cloves of garlic, minced
3 cups stock, seafood or chicken (see note)
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 tablespoons Dry Roux or all purpose flour (see note)
1/2 tsp Cajun spice, I like Tony Chachere’s More Spice, more or less to your spice tolerance
two sprigs of fresh thyme
salt and pepper to taste
chopped parsley for garnish
cooked rice, still hot

Thaw shrimp & sausage if you have time. If not just cook them longer at the end.

Heat the olive oil in the pan. Optionally brown the sausage in the pan and reserve on the side. Add the vegetables and Cajun spice and sauté until the vegetables are soft and the onions brown a little. Add the dry roux or flour and stir around for a minute or so. If you’re using flour go a little longer to brown the flour a bit.
Add the stock and thyme and simmer covered for at least 30 minutes, an hour is better. The stock should reduce to about two cups. Check for seasoning. Usually the Cajun spice adds enough salt and pepper, but you can add a bit more if needed. Remove the thyme stems.

Add in the shrimp and sliced sausage and simmer until the shrimp are done, about 5 minutes. Serve over hot rice, sprinkled with the parsley.

Stock Note: You can use many different things for the stock. I keep bonito flakes, from the Japanese section of the grocery store, on had to make a quick seafood stock with. Just pour boiling water over them and let them steep for a few minutes and strain out the fish flakes. They also sell it in powdered form, which I sometimes use. Water plus a bottle of clam juice, totaling 3 cups works. Or just use chicken stock. OMG! I originally published this without the garlic.

Dry Roux Note: Look for dry roux with the other Cajun/Creole items at the grocery store. Here in the Bay Area they now carry it. It’s basically browned flour, but some brands also include some Onion Powder and Garlic Powder. It’s great to have on hand and a wonderful substitute any time you need to thicken. It adds great depth of flavor and umami. I prefer Kary’s brand, but Tony Chachere’s is fine too.