05 April 2009

Nathalie Dupree's Shrimp and Grits

Grits are my favorite food. I know about 10,000 ways to make grits. Everyday grits can be new an interesting so it seems odd to me that there are just a few cookbooks featuring grits. I wrote about Bill Neal’s book, Good Old Grits.

The iconic recipe for grits is of course, shrimp and grits. The basic recipe: make grits; top with shrimp. The more complicated recipes, are simple and complicated and delicious. If you want to find a cookbook that offers a multitude of recipes for shrimp and grits, look no farther than Nathalie Dupree's Shrimp and Grits.

Nathalie Dupree is the grande dame of Southern cooking. We shared a plane once. I had watched her make grits with yogurt in them. I told her I wasn’t sure I wanted yogurt in my grits. I was very young! She told me that in order for Southern cuisine to mature, it had to be willing to change a bit with the times. So I went home and added yogurt to my grits, and over the next few years, quit a few new things. She was right, grits are still as Southern as ever, but they are as versatile as any starch out there.

According to Dupree, the earliest mention for shrimp and grits was in the 1930 edition of Two Hundred Years of Charleston Cooking. Originally called “Shrimps and Hominy” by the 1976 edition it had been changes to “Breakfast Shrimp and Grits.” In Charleston they like to call their grits “hominy.” Here is the original recipe.

The Original Breakfast Shrimp & Grits

1 cup uncooked grits
2-3 cups milk
2 cups water
1/2 cup butter
Salt and freshly ground pepper
1 pound raw shrimp, shelled

Add the grits to the simmering milk and water in a heavy saucepan, preferably nonstick, and cook as package directs, stirring constantly. Do not let the grits “burp” loudly, and watch the evaporation of liquid. Add more if necessary. When fully cooked to the texture you desire, remove from heat and add 2 tablespoons of butter and season with salt and pepper. Meanwhile, heat 4 tablespoons of butter in a frying pan and sauté the shrimp in the butter until the shrimp turns pink. Add the rest of the butter to the pan and melt. Top the grits with the shrimp and pour the butter on top.

Add a Bloody Mary and you have the “Breakfast of Champions” or Belles everywhere. Head over to Lucindaville for my “Scallop and Grits” recipe.

For more from Nathalie Dupree check out her blog.

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