Ok, well it’s actually shrimp and polenta (made from corn grown and stone ground in South Carolina). You purists can complain, but it could technically be yellow grits (except the farmers use an heirloom Italian polenta-corn seed that has probably been made into polenta since Romans ran the world). Despite all these controversies, I am in love with Anson Mills Polenta. I discovered it by religiously reading the menu for Thomas Keller’s Ad Hoc in Yountville, CA for weeks before we ate there. If TK likes it, odds are I will like it.
This was also my first attempt at shrimp stock and I can’t believe that I haven’t done it before. You see, we learned the hard way in our college apartment that if you just chunk shrimp shells in the trash can that you can never truly get rid of that smell. After that important lesson, my ritual was to place all the shells in a zip lock back and immediately take them to the outside trash where it would stink until trash day and attract all manner of neighborhood beasts. Thus the utility of shrimp stock. Not only is it the easiest stock you’ll ever make (40 minuites!) but it’s cheap and scrumptious. Try it.
1. Make polenta four hours before you need it
2. peel and devein shrimp, reserve shells
3. Make stock one hour prior
4. Make sauce, 30 min prior
Shrimp and Grits
Polenta in the Slow Cooker
1 C Anson Mills Rustic Coarse Polenta Integrale
2 cans low sodium chicken broth
1 tsp salt
1/4-1/2 C grated parmesan
2 tbsp unsalted butter
Spray slow cooker insert with non-stick spray. Combine all ingredients except parmesan and butter. Cook on low 3.5-4 hours, stirring 3-4 times. Near the end of cooking time, stir in parmesan and butter.
(Shrimp with shells on maintain their taste and integrity better than peeled ones. But if you don’t get shrimp with shells, you can substitute chicken broth.)
shells from 1 lb gulf shrimp
1/2 onion, roughly chopped
1 celery stalk, roughly chopped
2 bay leaves
4-6 whole peppercorns
4-6 C water
In a medium saucepan, heat 1-2 tsp canola oil. Add shrimp shells and cook until very pink. Add remaining ingredients and bring to a boil. Simmer for 45-60 minutes. Strain through a fine mesh strainer or cheese cloth.
Shrimp and Sauce
2-3 pieces bacon
1/2 green bell pepper, finely diced
1/2 onion, finely diced
1 celery stalk, finely diced
1/4 C flour
1/2 C dry sherry
2-4 C shrimp stock
1 tsp dried thyme
1/4 tsp cayenne
Cook bacon and remove to paper towels. Reserve 2 tbsp bacon drippings in pan. Add onion, celery and bell pepper to pan and cook over medium heat until all veg are softened and beginning to brown (10 min). Sprinkle flour over veg and cook raw flour taste out 3-5 min.
Deglaze pan with sherry, scraping any brown bits. Add 3 C shrimp stock and simmer until thickened. Continue adding stock to maintain correct consistency as sauce reduces. Add salt, pepper, thyme and cayenne to taste.
Once sauce is completed, add peeled shrimp and let them slowly cook as the sauce simmers, 5-6 minutes.
Serve shrimp and sauce over polenta. Pass the tabasco.