I love cultivating my community through food, recipes and food-related events. When I was growing up, my grandma was always inviting people over to eat. We would say that her house had a revolving door. She used her culinary skills to create a community with people she knew and people she didn’t know. Food creates that same community for me.

The best memories I have in my life are around the dinner table — laughing, crying and storytelling — with family, friends and sometimes strangers. I always feel like I truly understand a country or a culture when I’ve had the chance to eat their food.

My grandma exposed me to Southern culture through her food. She was born in New Iberia, Louisiana, and I was born in the Pacific Northwest. I never lived in the South, but I definitely feel like I know it and can appreciate it, thanks to my Grammy and all of the delicious food she made for us. 

This recipe is definitely an elevated version of the food that I grew up eating. We didn’t have Asiago cheese in our house growing up, nor did we have chorizo. The shrimp my grandma made was delicious, but she definitely wasn’t using avocado oil; she was probably cooking with bacon grease.

I developed this recipe as an ode to my Grammy because I don’t actually remember my grandma ever making shrimp and grits as a meal, but I do remember her making seafood dishes all the time, and I swear we ate grits at least once a week, maybe more. 

On any given night, we might have shrimp étouffée, fried catfish or crawfish. And we usually ate grits for breakfast — grits with sausage; grits with cheese and sausage; grits with eggs; grits with cheese; just grits. It was a morning staple in our house, for sure. Now, I see grits on restaurant menus, and I always wonder what she would think about that.

So this one’s for you, Grammy!

_____

Shrimp and grits

Preparation time: 45 minutes

Servings: 4

INGREDIENTS:
  • 3 cups water
  • 1 ½ teaspoons salt
  • ¼ pound ground chorizo
  • 1 cup yellow grits
  • 3 tablespoons salted butter
  • 1 pound shrimp, cleaned and deveined
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • ¼ teaspoon fresh cracked pepper
  • ½ teaspoon Cajun seasoning
  • 1 tablespoon avocado oil
  • 2 teaspoons lemon juice
  • ¼ cup chicken or seafood stock
  • ½ cup half-and-half, warmed up
  • ½ cup Asiago cheese, shredded
  • Chopped parsley for garnish
STEPS:
  1. In a 4-quart pot over high heat, bring 3 cups water and 1 teaspoon salt to a boil. 
  2. In a cast iron skillet or a sauté pan over medium-high heat, add the ground chorizo and cook until crispy, for about 6 to 8 minutes. Pour chorizo into a bowl and set aside.
  3. Reduce the heat of the boiling water to low and add in the grits.
  4. Cook the grits for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  5. Remove grits from the heat, add the butter, cover, and let sit for about 2 minutes while you start on the shrimp.
  6. In a medium bowl, mix the cleaned and deveined shrimp, garlic, pepper, ½ teaspoon salt and Cajun seasoning together. Set aside.
  7. Using the cast iron skillet or sauté pan, heat avocado oil over medium heat.
  8. Add shrimp to the skillet and cook for about 1 minute on each side, until they turn slightly pink.
  9. Add lemon juice and broth, and sauté for another 1 to 2 minutes until completely pink.
  10. Add half-and-half and Asiago cheese to the grits. Stir until completely combined.
  11. Serve by layering the cheesy grits on the bottom of a bowl, add the shrimp next, and top with chorizo and freshly chopped parsley.