The first time I tried this dish was on a sweltering hot summer day in downtown DC. The lovely Saucy Mama crew was in town and I drove down to make my winning recipe with them for the crowd at the Fancy Food Show. They were just as wonderful as I’d suspected they’d be and we really hit it off. In true, classy Saucy Mama fashion, they invited me to dinner after the show. The rumor was that Chef Geoff’s was really good – and it was close - so off we went.
We ordered “family style” and passed our plates around the table for everyone to try. When the shrimp and grits plate came my way, I passed it straight to the next person without hesitation. Grits were not my thing. The only time I’d ever had them was at a breakfast stop when we drove down south; the bland flavor and rubbery texture had turned me off from them forever. But everyone was raving about them: “the best grits I’ve ever had!”, “not like any grits I’ve tried” and many other comments convinced me I had to give them at least one bite.
And ooooooohhh….they were delicious. Creamy, cheesy and soft…I couldn’t believe they had the same name as that other plate of tasteless yuck I’d had all those years ago. I’d been immediately transformed into a grits lover.
A few months later I was visiting my sister. We were headed out to dinner and she asked where we should go…”Chef Geoff’s is close and really good”…ummm, yes, please! I didn’t realize there was another location, let alone one so close to her. So this time I was able to order my grits and have them all to myself. And they were just as wonderful as I’d remembered.
A month or so later I found myself craving this dish again. I was about to recreate the recipe when I decided to do a google search first to see if anyone else had already done the same. Turns out that Chef Geoff himself had made this dish on the Today show and the recipe was posted online! Oh, happy day!
It probably goes without saying, but try to use the freshest ingredients you can. There aren’t many ingredients and no spices to speak of, so it’s important that each component has a lot of flavor on its own. I made a trip to the farmers market the morning I made it and it made all the difference.
My other suggestion with this dish is to do your mise en place. That means to have everything chopped, measured and arranged before you even heat your pan. This dish comes together quickly, and you need to be cooking your grits at the same time as everything else, so having it done in advance makes it a breeze to throw together. This would be a great dish to serve for guests since your main and side are all on one plate, plus you can chop and slice beforehand; store the vegetables in separate small containers and set out just before show time.
If you’re not a grits lover – or if you are – this is the recipe you should try if you’re willing. I promise you, you won’t be disappointed!
Chef Geoff’s Shrimp and Very Gouda Grits
Make sure you taste and season, especially the grits. I suspect that Chef Geoff tailored this recipe for the masses; changes I would make would be to thinly slice, instead of dice, the andouille (this is how it is in the restaurant), and give a quick separate sear to both the sausage and the shrimp, remove from the pan and add back in at step 3. But either way you prepare it – it will be delish!
- 2 tablespoons canola oil
- 12 each jumbo shrimp (under 12 per pound), peeled and deveined
- 1 cup andouille sausage, small dice (approx 3-4 ounces)
- 1 cup red onion, cut into thin strips
- 1 cup red pepper, cut into thin strips
- 1 cup yellow pepper, cut into thin strips
- 1 cup grape tomatoes, cut in half
- 2 tablespoons parsley, chopped
- 4 ounces white wine (1/2 cup)
- 2 ounces butter, unsalted, cut in cubes (1/4 cup or 1/2 stick)
- 2 cups very gouda grits (see recipe below)
- Salt and pepper as needed
- 10 ounces whole milk (1 1/4 cups)
- 1/4 cup quick-cooking grits
- 1/2 cup gouda cheese – grated
- 1 tablespoon butter
- Salt and pepper as needed
- Pat the shrimp dry with a paper towel and season with salt and pepper.
- Heat canola in sauté pan (a 12″ cast-iron skillet or nonstick pan is ideal) on medium high and add shrimp, sausage and onion. Cook approximately 1 minute and add the pepper. Cook 2-3 minutes.
- Add tomatoes and parsley. Cook until shrimp is 75% cooked through. Add white wine and bring to a boil. Reduce wine by about half and fold in butter. Season as desired with salt and pepper. Serve in a hot bowl over very gouda grits.
- In a 4-quart pan bring the milk to a simmer over medium-high heat. Add the grits and bring back to a simmer. Whisk off and on for 5 minutes. Add cheese and butter and cook for another minute while whisking. Season as desired.