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83 East Bay Street Shrimp and Grits

From The Lee Bros. Southern Cookbook by Matt and Ted Lee

Makes 4 servings

Shrimp Stock

1 1/2 pounds headless large shrimp (26 to 30 per pound, shells on)

3 cups water

1/2 teaspoon peppercorns

1/2 teaspoon celery seeds

1 bay leaf, in pieces

1 teaspoon kosher salt

1/8 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper


1 1/2 cups stone-ground grits

1 1/2 cups whole milk

3 cups water

2 pinches kosher salt, plus more to taste

Freshly ground black pepper to taste


1 pound tomatillos, green tomatoes, or tomatoes (about 6 large tomatillos or 3 medium tomatoes)

1 tablespoon minced jalapeno pepper (about 1 jalapeno)

1/4 pound slab bacon or 3 slices thick-cut bacon, diced

3 tablespoons unsalted butter

1/2 cup chopped green bell pepper

1/2 cup chopped yellow onion

1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon all-purpose flour

Kosher salt to taste

Freshly ground black pepper to taste

Peel shrimp, reserving the shells. In a medium saucepan, bring the water to a boil over high heat. Add the shells and rest of stock ingredients. Reduce heat to medium-low, and simmer for 20 minutes. Strain the broth (you should have about 1 ½ cups) and reserve. Discard the shells.

While the broth simmers, stir the grits into a bowl of cold water and allow to settle. Corn hulls may float to the surface. Skim off the hulls and drain the grits. In a medium saucepan, bring the milk and the 3 cups water to a boil over high heat. Add the grits, stirring with a wooden spoon. Reduce the heat to medium, add the salt and cook, stirring occasionally.

Once the grits thicken (about 10 minutes), reduce the heat and cook, stirring frequently and adding water if the grits become too stiff. Cook until the grits are fluffy and creamy, 35 to 45 minutes. Season with salt and pepper and reserve.

While the grits cook, remove the papery husks from the tomatillos and place them in a medium roasting pan or cast-iron skillet. Broil them about 3 inches from the flame or heating element, turning them as their skins blacken, until they’re blackened all over, 7 to 10 minutes. Transfer the tomatillos (or tomatoes, if you're using them instead) to a food processor or blender and pulse to a soupy liquid, about three 1-second pulses. Press the liquid through a food mill or coarse strainer into a medium bowl (you should have about 2 cups). Add the jalapeno and reserve.

Scatter the bacon in a 12-inch cast-iron skillet or sauté pan over medium-high heat. With a slotted spoon, move the pieces around until the bacon is firm and just golden brown, about 3 minutes. Transfer to a small bowl. Pour off all but 3 tablespoons of the fat and add the butter, bell pepper and onion. Sauté until the pepper and onion just begin to soften, about 2 minutes.

Pour 2 tablespoons of the shrimp broth into a small bowl, add the flour and whisk until it becomes a smooth paste. Pour the remaining shrimp broth into the skillet with the pepper and onion. When the broth reaches simmer, reduce the heat to medium and cook at a vigorous simmer until the vegetables have softened.

Add the flour paste to the pan, whisking vigorously to distribute the flour evenly throughout the broth. Add the sieved tomatillo and jalapeno mixture to the skillet, stirring, and return to a simmer. Cook until the gravy thickens enough to coat the back of a spoon heavily, 5 to 7 minutes more.

Add the shrimp and continue cooking until they are pink and cooked through, 2 to 3 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

To serve, divide the grits among 4 plates and ladle the shrimp and gravy on top.

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