It's almost time for tailgating folks!
Whether you carve out a spot at one of the parking lots at Reliant Stadium or you invite folks over to your tailgating hub at home, it's time to start thinking of food to go with football games. I'll try to share a recipe each week that has proven to really draw in the crowds who finish with empty plates, bowls and barrels while cheering on our Texans.
First up, is a southern favorite of Shrimp & Grits. This is a recipe I have refined over a few years, and there are never any left overs at the end, which makes cleanup a breeze. It's great for big crowds as you just keep everything warm and let them serve it up. This quantity will serve about six people, so just increase the recipe as needed for your crew.
For the Grits:
Instant Grits Package OR (old school) 3 cups milk, 3 cups heavy cream, 1 cup stone-ground white cornmeal
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
Freshly ground black pepper
4oz Sharp White Cheddar Cheese (freshly graded)
4oz Mascarpone Cheese
For the Shrimp:
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 TB unsalted butter
1 medium white onion, minced
1 garlic clove, minced
1 pound andouille or smoked sausage cut in diagonal 1/4 inch slices
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
2 cups chicken stock
2 to 3 bay leaves
2 pounds med-large shrimp (18-24 count), peeled and cleaned
1/2 lemon, juiced
Freshly ground black pepper
2 TB finely chipped fresh flat-leaf parsely
4 green onions, sliced
2 TB chili powder*
pinch of cayenne pepper
1 TB garlic powder or granulated garlic
3 TB Worcester sauce
French Baguette (bread) for mopping up the sauce!
For the Grits
You can cheat and use instant grits. Make one cup of grits and then mix in the sharp white cheddar cheese and mascarpone cheese, then season with salt and pepper to your taste preference. This works fine for this dish and is a bit faster.
If you want to go old school, place a 3-quart pot over medium-high heat. Add the milk and cream. Slowly whisk in the cornmeal. When the grits begin to bubble, turn the heat down to medium low and simmer, stirring frequently with a wooden spoon. Allow to cook for 10 to 15 minutes, until the mixture is smooth and thick. Remove from heat and stir in the butter, thin it out with a little extra cream. Season with salt and pepper to your taste preference.
For the Shrimp:
Place a deep skillet over medium heat and coat with the olive oil and 2 TB butter. Add the onion and garlic; saute for 2 minutes to soften. Add the sausage and cook, stirring, until there is a fair amount of fat in the pan and the sausage is brown. Sprinkle in the flour and stir with a wooden spoon to create a roux. Slowly pour in the chicken stock and continue to stir to avoid lumps. Be sure to de-glaze the bottom of the pan with the spoon as you stir to get all that good flavor. Toss in the bay leaves, parsley, chili powder, cayenne, garlic powder. When the liquid comes to a simmer, add the Worcester sauce and lemon juice. Add the shrimp, turn down heat to simmer. Poach the shrimp in the stock for 3-4 minutes.
I recommend individual shallow wide bowls, placing a good ladle scoop of grits in center of the bowl with a generous portion of the shrimp/sausage around the grits. Garnish with sliced green onion and French Baguette. ENJOY!!
If you are traveling and want to cook up the sauce in advance, like the night before, you can do that and just keep the shrimp on ice until you are ready to serve. Bring the sauce to a boil, drop in the fresh shrimp for 3-4 mins then serve. This is better than cooking the shrimp and eating later, as it can get chewy if sitting for a long time. Grits don't sit well, so make those on site too or you'll have a pot of hardened concrete to deal with. This gives you a great option to enjoy the game and friends without fooling around with all the ingredients for the sauce on site.
*Chili Powders and a Fireside Chat
I'm a real stickler for quality ingredients. I dread the standard chili powders found at grocery stores that are usually cheap oxidized grinds of brown dust. If you don't mind a little extra work and want to greatly enhance your spice collection for seasoning things like this recipe, homemade chili, steaks and anything else you need a good chili powder for, then pull up a chair for a minute.
I'm not usually one to promote brands or businesses, but I discovered a source of chili powders that just has to be shared with folks who enjoy cooking. "Mild Bill's Spice Co." in Ennis, TX grinds pure chili peppers into single pepper and blended pepper type mixes. They have NO fillers like a lot of spices at the local store has, where some spices have as much as 50% salt to increase profits. Not only that, but it doesn't help you as a cook when trying to balance out the flavors or help those on low sodium diets. Mild Bill's is the source of most of the champions for the International Chili Competition in Terlingua, TX.
You can order from their website and then put all the ground pepper packages (they come zip locked) in a large sealed container to keep it fresh.
Here is my personal blend of chili powder I use for this Shrimp & Grits dish, as well as general purpose chili rub. I use a different blend for my actual "chili" dish but that's for another day and another recipe.
Mix the following ratios, then store in zip lock or air tight container:
5TB San Antonio
1 TB Ancho
5 (ts) Cayenne
Let me know if you try this and how it worked out. Please share any of your recipes for week 1 of the season below!