Thursday, August 12, 2010

Shrimp and Grits from the Bluegrass

Has shrimp and grits become the South's new, everyone has a different version stew? A trip to Chef Jonathan Lundy's eponymous restaurant, Jonathan's at Gratz Park in Lexington, KY, produced yet another version and a souvenir recipe.

 The little bite to the sauce pairs perfectly with his Crispy White Cheddar Grits. It looks complicated but much can be prepared in advance.

Jonathan's Shrimp and Grits
Serves 6-8

The Shrimp
1TBS vegetable oil
1/2 cup yellow onion, diced
1/2 cup celery, diced
1/2 cup green bell pepper, diced
1/2 jalapeno pepper, seeds removed
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 TBS fresh basil, chopped
1 TBS fresh thyme
2 bay leaves
1 cup canned tomatoes
1 cup tomato juice
1 cup shrimp, chicken or vegetable stock
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
1/2 TBS freshly ground black pepper
2 lbs large shrimp, peeled and deveined
4 TBS cold butter

In a 4-quart pot, preheat vegetable oil and saute onions, celery, and green peppers on high heat until tender. Add garlic, jalapeno pepper and herbs and saute for another 2 minutes.

Add the remainder of the ingredients except the shrimp and butter. Lower heat to simmer for 20 minutes.

Allow sauce to cool then process in a blender; puree to a smooth consistency. This can be done a few days ahead and stored in the refrigerator.

Place the shrimp and refrigerated sauce into a large pot on low heat, stirring frequently to ensure even cooking. The shrimp should be done in 10 minutes; don't overcook! When the shrimp are almost ready, stir in the butter.

Quickly remove the shrimp and set aside.

The Grits
2 cups grits, not instant
5 cups shrimp, chicken or vegetable stock
2 cups heavy cream
2 cups white cheddar cheese
1 TBS salt
1/2 tsp ground white pepper
3 cups cornmeal
2 cups vegetable oil

Place stock and cream in a 2-quart pot. Place over high heat and bring to a boil.

Stir in the grits and lower heat to a simmer. Cook for about 20 minutes.

Stir in cheese, salt and white pepper. Simmer for another 10 minutes.

Taste the grits and notice the texture. When the grits have a smooth, creamy feel in your mouth, they are done. If they still have too much texture, add a cup of water and continue to cook.

Pour the grits into a sheet pan about 1 1/2 inches thick and allow them to cool in the refrigerator. When thoroughly cool, cut into 3- to 4-inch circles or squares. At this point, grits can be reserved for a few days and kept in the refrigerator.

Dust the grits with cornmeal. Set them aside until ready to fry.

Preheat oil to about 350 degrees in a large saute pan or tabletop deep fat fryer. In small batches, fry the grits to a golden brown, about 2-3 minutes per side.

The Assembly
On each plate, ladle about 3-4 ounces of warm sauce. Place grits over the sauce and then stand the shrimp up in the grits.

Serve immediately.

NOTE: To find out more about the chefs and other attractions in Lexington and the Bluegrass area of Kentucky check the August posts at my other site,  Travel on the Level


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