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Charleston Shrimp and Grits – My Very Own Shrimp and Grits Recipe,

When I was younger , in a simpler time pre-Hugo, Shrimp and Grits was a Lowcountry breakfast dish. Of course today it has emerged as a signature dish along with She Crab Soup and Huguenot Torte. It is delicious, and there are numerous excellent versions to be found around town. The version at the Marina Variety Store immediately comes to mind for me. Since I made Shrimp and Grits today, and it looked so good in my cast iron skillet, I thought that I would share my version. It is simple, inexpensive, honest and maybe better for you than some other versions. Still, my version provides all the indulgence that a hot creamy plate of Shrimp and Grits implies. Please read through the recipe first, and note the ingredient list at the end. You will want to start the grits well before the sauce. Enjoy!

                                       Al’s Shrimp and Grits
Set burner to 3/4 high.Place 1 slice of bacon plus 11/2 tablespoon canola oil in skillet, then start slicing.

I start out with the Holy Trinity—-Onion, bell pepper and celery. The old recipes call for using a tablespoon each. That misses the point. Lets get some veggie fiber in breakfast!
so I use a small whole onion, sliced lengthwise and the chopped in half
three stalks of celery medium dice, hearts and leaves fine dice and reserved
1/2 bell pepper, chopped fine

Saute 5 minutes, Add 3/4 lb peeled shrimp, and then a tablespoon of flour , saute 3 minutes stirring with a wooden spoon to scrape the bottom. We’re working on browning the flour for a roux.Add some more canola if you use too much flour.

Then add 1 cup or more of shrimp broth, 1 tsp of salt,a tablespoon of tomato paste,  an authoritative dash of cayenne pepper and reduce to a thin sauce. Combine 1/3 cup of milk and a teaspoon of flour, well blended together to form a thick liquid, and add to the sauce. Whisk it all together until you have a creamy sauce, then add finely chopped celery leaves and stalks finely chopped and three or four chopped raw shrimp.  The celery added at the last provides a bright crunch in the finished dish.

Cover the pot and remove from the heat. Wait 10 minutes.

For the grits, which were called hominy when cooked B.M.E. (before the modern era) ,  I prefer to use plain grits cooked with a little salt. Sometimes I use shrimp broth if I have it. I think of grits as a canvass in the painting. The secret to a good pot of grits is not to add cream or cheese. That makes grits different, but not always better. Good for  ham and eggs perhaps, I see those additions as superfluous fat and cholesterol when the intent is to place a creamy sauce on top. Plain  Quaker Grits is just fine. The secret is to forget the ready in 15 minutes on the box.A good pot of creamy grits takes at least forty minutes, and there should be a crust in the bottom of the heavy bottom pot that you always use to cook grits.

Grits can be cooked thin or thick. Since thin grits with a sauce turns into a soupy mess, thick is what I want to place a sauce on top.Its not a bad thing to turn over the spoon and the grits still stick to it.I
 was taught to cook grits the old fashioned way. I pour the grits into a pot of briskly boiling water and then I listen as they boil down to a glug glug sound or start spitting. Stirring, I turn them down to one over low and cover. Then I stir once in five minutes  and cover for twenty. If its too thick, I add boiling water and stirring until smooth. Then I put it on high to boil, cover it, and reduce it to a simmer for 20 minutes minimum, Works every time.

Plate it by placing the hot grits on the plate, and mash a depression in the center with a serving spoon.
Ladle the sauce and shrimp over the grits. Serves three.

For three:
3/4 pound shrimp, peeled . four held in reserve
1 cup or more shrimp broth* see recipe at the end
1 small onion
three stalks celery, leaves and upper stalks reserved
1 small bell pepper –or red–or yellow
11/2  tbs or more canola oil
1 slice of bacon
1 tsp salt
cayenne pepper to taste
2 tbs  plus one teaspoon flour
1/3 cup milk
1 tbs tomato paste
optional: finely diced tomatoes, 1/2 cup

* for the shrimp broth, place shrimp shells in a quart container or a bowl, cover with water,cover with plastic wrap and microwave on high for two minutes.

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Charleston Old Walled City Tours offers themed tours od Historic Charleston including the Old Walled City Tour, the Home and Garden Tour, the Slavery and Freedom Tour, and the Charleston Ghost Walk. Go to www.walledcitytours.come to learn more!



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