Enjoy the simple bliss of shrimp and grits.

LOS ANGELES TIMESOctober 30, 2013 

MCT

Comfort food doesn’t get much better than a hearty meal of shrimp and grits.

This recipe is from Stella’s Southern Bistro in Simpsonville, S.C. It will take some time to prepare, but it is well worth the effort.

Plump shrimp are simmered in a rich ragout of applewood smoked bacon, chopped tomatoes, Creole seasoning, fresh bell peppers and green onion, butter and homemade shrimp stock — you could use store-bought fish stock, but don’t ruin this dish with shortcuts.

Spooned over a creamy mound of grits, it’s heaven in a bowl.

STELLA’S SIGNATURE SHRIMP AND GRITS

1 hour, 45 minutes plus cooling time. Serves 6

SHRIMP STOCK

3 tablespoons oil

Shells from 36 medium shrimp (the shrimp are used in the ragout section of this recipe)

1/2 onion, chopped

1 celery stalk, chopped

1 carrot, chopped

1 bay leaf

4 black peppercorns

2 to 3 sprigs thyme

1 tablespoon tomato paste

2 cups white wine, divided

6 cups water

In a large pot heated over high heat, add the vegetable oil and shrimp shells. Saute until the shells turn pink, 1 to 2 minutes.

Stir in the onion, celery and carrot and continue to saute, stirring frequently, for 1 to 2 minutes.

Stir in the bay leaf, peppercorns, thyme and tomato paste and continue to saute until the herbs are aromatic and the vegetables are somewhat softened, 3 to 5 minutes.

Remove the pan from heat momentarily and stir in one cup of wine, scraping any flavoring from the base of the pan.

Cook, stirring frequently, until the wine evaporates, 6 to 8 minutes.

Do the same with the second cup of wine. Add the water and simmer for 10 minutes, then set aside to cool before straining.

Discard the solids and refrigerate until needed. This makes a generous quart stock, more than is needed for the remainder of the recipe; the stock will keep, covered and refrigerated, up to one week.

CREAMY GRITS

1 cup heavy cream

1 cup milk, more if needed

1 cup water, more if needed

1 cup stone ground grits (the restaurant uses Adluh Mills white grits)

1 teaspoon salt, more to taste

1/4 to 1/2 cup (1/2 to 1 stick) butter, cubed

In a medium, heavy-bottom pan, bring the cream, milk and water to a simmer over medium-high heat. Reduce the heat to low, stir in the grits and 1 teaspoon salt. Gently simmer, stirring frequently (to prevent the grits from sticking to the bottom of the pan), until the grits are tender and thickened, 45 minutes to 1 hour; the grits should have a pudding-like consistency.

Add additional milk or water as needed to keep the grits moist while cooking; depending on the age, type and brand, some grits will require more liquid and cooking time than others. Stir the cubed butter into the cooked grits and remove from heat.

While the grits are cooking, start on the ragout.

SHRIMP RAGOUT

12 slices thick-cut applewood smoked bacon, cut into 1/4-inch pieces

1 cup diced red bell pepper

3 dozen shelled medium shrimp

1 1/2 cups peeled and chopped fresh plum or canned tomatoes

2 tablespoons Creole seasoning

1 cup Shrimp Stock

2 tablespoons butter, chopped

1 cup sliced green onions, divided

Hot sauce, optional

In a large saute pan, cook the bacon over medium-high heat until it is cooked but not crisp, 8 to 10 minutes. Drain any excess fat and stir in the red peppers, cooking until the peppers are softened.

Stir in the shrimp, tomatoes, Creole seasoning, and stock and cook over until the shrimp are nearly cooked, 2 to 4 minutes.

Reduce the heat to medium-low and stir in the chopped butter and one-half of the green onions. Continue cooking until the shrimp are just cooked through and are firm, opaque and pink; be careful not to overcook or the shrimp will become rubbery.

Taste and add hot sauce if desired.

Remove from heat, and hold in a warm place if the grits are not yet ready.

To serve, divide the warm grits between 6 shallow bowls and top with the ragout. Sprinkle over the remaining green onions and serve immediately.

Nutrition per serving: 537 calories, 16 g protein, 24 g carbohydrates, 3 g fiber, 41 g fat, 22 g saturated fat, 163 mg cholesterol, 5 g sugar, 1,515 mg sodium

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