Grits have been eaten in South Carolina since long before Europeans graced America’s shores. In fact, the Southeastern Muskogee tribe of American Indians is credited with grinding corn in such a way that it retained a gritty texture. The tribe shared with settlers, and somewhere along the way the Gullah Geechee — descendents of slaves from West Africa — paired grits with Lowcountry shrimp. The rest is culinary history. Restaurants and individual cooks have caught on and given the dish distinction by adding in unique spices and ingredients. This is a hearty take on a historic favorite.
Shrimp & Grits with Andouille Sausage & Tasso Ham Gravy
This recipe serves four to six, and preparation and cooking time is approximately 2 1/2 hours.
For the grits:
2 quarts chicken stock
2 tablespoons salt
1/2 teaspoon white pepper
1 3/4 cups of Adluh stone ground grits
1 cup heavy cream
1 cup whole milk, or substitute 2 cups half and half
Salt and white pepper to taste
Use a 4-quart, heavy-bottom pot. The grits for the recipe can be prepared first and held in a 200 F oven for 1 to 2 hours. If grits are made ahead of time, water may be added later to make them easier to ladle into a bowl for serving. Bring the chicken stock to a boil and add the salt and pepper.
While the chicken stock is boiling, slowly pour in the grits while whisking briskly. When grits are added too quickly or are not mixed well with the liquid, lumps will form. When all the grits are in the pot and thoroughly mixed, reduce the heat to medium. Stir frequently while cooking for 30 to 45 minutes until the grits are soft.
Whisk in the milk and cream. Taste the grits and add salt and pepper if needed. Set aside.
For the Shrimp & Andouille Sausage:
2 tablespoons butter
Andouille sausage (about 1 to 2 ounces per person)
Shrimp (about 6 to 8 medium shrimp per person)
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 teaspoon Old Bay
Use a large nonstick skillet. Dice the Andouille sausage into medium (1/2 inch) pieces. Shrimp should be defrosted, peeled, and deveined before using. Melt the butter in the pan on medium high heat and add the sausage. Cook the sausage while stirring occasionally until it is lightly browned. Add the shrimp and cook until they are pink. Add salt, pepper, and Old Bay and mix thoroughly. Finely mince parsley if desired as a garnish. Set aside.
For the Tasso Ham Gravy:
4 tablespoons butter
3 ounces Tasso ham
1/4 cup flour
1 1/2 cups chicken stock (hot)
1/2 teaspoon salt
Dice the Tasso ham into small (1/8 inch) pieces. In a 2-quart saucepan, melt the butter on medium high heat and add the ham. Saute the ham until the aromas of the spice coating are released, then whisk in the flour. Continue cooking while stirring the ham and flour into the butter to make a roux. Add the hot chicken stock and whisk briskly to mix well with the roux and prevent lumps. Change the heat to a simmer and continue stirring until the gravy thickens. This will take about 5 minutes. Taste the gravy and add salt and pepper if needed.
To serve, ladle grits onto the bottom of a large soup or dinner plate; top with shrimp and sausage, add gravy, and garnish with parsley.