Shrimp and Grits Casserole

Grits are famous all over the southern United States. According to Wikipedia, in the Charleston area, cooked grits are called "hominy" and uncooked grits are called "grist." The word "grits" is derived from the Old English word grytt, meaning "coarse meal." my sister-in-law lives in Greenville, South Carolina, and she begs to differ. She says, “The word G.R.I.T.S. stands for Girls Raised in The South” and I really like that acronym; I think I will be using it a lot when talking about grits.

And I want to clear something up. There is a misconception that grits are made from the center of a corn kernel. The truth is the hard outer hull is removed and the corn kernel is dried, ground and then cooked. For the best grits, try to buy dent corn grits. This is the most popular corn used to make grits because this variety of corn has a very high starch content, allowing it to produce a creamier cooked product than other corn kernels.

You also have to remember the number one taboo about this grain. That is that no respectable southern girl or guy would ever be caught dead making instant grits! So, with all this knowledge in mind, I was inspired to make a shrimp and grits casserole from a recipe by Lynn Fields. I took a few artistic liberties and edited it a bit, adding more shrimp, a pound of andouille sausage and increasing the seasonings. So, “Please Join Our Table” as we make and enjoy this fantastic recipe. Oh, and about the bad, just don’t make instant grits!

Shrimp and Grits Casserole

INGREDIENTS

1 1/2 pounds medium-size raw shrimp or crawfish, peeled and deveined

1 pound andouille sausage, sliced into discs

3 cups chicken broth or 2 cups broth and 1 cup milk

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon ground red pepper

1 cup uncooked regular grits

1/2 cup butter

3 large eggs, lightly beaten

1 red bell pepper, diced

1 cup chopped green onions

2 cloves garlic, minced 3 cloves

1/2 teaspoon seafood seasoning

1 cup fine, dried breadcrumbs (I used panko)

1 cup chopped green onions

1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese plus 2 tablespoons for the top

1/4 cup Gruyere cheese, shredded or cut into small chunks

DIRECTIONS: Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Lightly grease an 8- x 8-inch baking dish. In a large saucepan over medium-high heat, bring broth, milk, salt and red pepper powder to a boil. Whisk in grits and return to a boil. Reduce heat to low and stir in butter. Cover pot and simmer, stirring occasionally for 10 minutes or until liquid is absorbed. Remove from heat. In a large bowl, stir together eggs and remaining ingredients except the 2 extra tablespoons of cheese. Gradually stir about one-fourth of hot grits mixture into egg mixture. Stir well. Add egg mixture to remaining hot grits mixture, stirring constantly. Stir in shrimp and sausage until blended. Pour grits mixture into a lightly greased 8 x8 -inch baking dish. (With any extra, I fill a few ramekins and bake them along with the casserole for 30 minutes.) Top casserole with remaining cheese and bake at 325 degrees for 55 minutes to 1 hour or until mixture is set. Let stand 10 minutes before serving.

*A note from Lynn Fields of Kingwood: “The first time I made this recipe, I used the amounts given in the original recipe and made an 11"x 7" dish. I knew I would need more to feed a bigger crowd, so I used 50% more ingredients to make a 9"x 13" dish for Thanksgiving. I used four eggs plus a tablespoon of water in the larger recipe. Otherwise, everything else increased by 50% rather easily. In addition to the red peppers and green onions, I stretched the larger batch with a half of a green bell pepper.”

My Gritty Shortbread Cookies

These are great cookies with a strong lemon flavor and a subtle kick of ginger and cardamom.

INGREDIENTS:

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 cup + 1 tablespoon grits, I like to use Geechie Boy Unicorn cornmeal (it is pink!)

1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, room temperature

3/4 cup granulated sugar

1 large egg, room temperature

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon ground ginger

1/4 teaspoon cardamom

1 tablespoon lemon zest

Directions: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Sift together flour and baking powder. Stir in cornmeal and set aside. Mix butter and sugar until fluffy. Add the egg and beat well. Add salt, lemon zest ginger and cardamom and combine well. Add dry ingredients and mix until just combined. Divide dough in 2 equal pieces. Cover both with plastic wrap and place in fridge until well chilled, about 15 minutes. Remove plastic wrap and, using a tablespoon, scoop a large tablespoon of dough onto a parchment lined cookie sheet. Gently press down to form 2-inch ovals. Place in preheated oven and bake until edges are lightly golden brown golden, about 10-12 minutes. Move to a wire rack to cool.

Lemon Curd Ginger Frosting (optional)

Makes 4 1/4 cups

INGREDIENTS:

3 8-ounce packages cream cheese, room temperature

1 11 1/4-ounce jar lemon curd

1 1/4 cup powdered sugar

1 tablespoon lemon zest

1/2 teaspoon ground ginger

DIRECTIONS: Using electric mixer, beat cream cheese and curd in large bowl until smooth. Add remaining ingredients and beat until well blended, about 2 minutes. This is great on cupcakes, too, topped with a small piece of candied ginger.

Karen Boughton
Author: Karen BoughtonEmail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
I grew up in a big, Greek, cooking family. I married my high school sweetheart and soon had three daughters. My husband and I worked in the family’s Greek restaurant, “Zorba’s,” for several years before moving to Baton Rouge and eventually Corpus Christi. There I taught microwave cooking classes for Amana.in studio and on television for three years before moving to Kingwood in the late '80s. I reached out to learn more about regional and international foods, spending 16 years in management in private athletic/dining/country clubs for ClubCorp, where I embraced health and cooking. In 2008 I joined the Tribune Newspapers as food editor, the same time that I became a nutrition advisor and USANA Health Sciences Associate. These two passions have given me better health and the freedom to live life my way.

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