Cajun Shrimp & Hickory Smoked Grits: Ayeeeee!
The winds that blew this day were quite impressive. Tipping chairs threatened pitside while tree limbs bent as over as to greet me with the few clinging leaves they still possessed. Indeed, various types of debris flying by at light speed make for conditions that certainly aren’t conducive to outside grilling, but I would not be denied. I resolved to remain pitside, because, in my world, my craving for Shrimp & Grits was stronger and more persistent than those wind gusts. So while the fire was being dutifully readied and watched, the vital ingredients were prepped, brought out, and kept handy for a hardwood grilled, Cajun Shrimp & Hickory Smoked Grits supper. Lordy!
Let’s get started by marinating our shrimp, a pound of the 16/22 variety because I wanted extra shrimp, and if you’re gonna be truthful, you do too. Added into a Ziploc bag with those beauties was a mixture consisting of 1/4 cup of olive oil, 1/2 tsp roasted granulated garlic, 1 tsp smoked paprika, and about 1/4 tsp each of fresh cracked black pepper and cayenne pepper.
Meanwhile, two cups of homemade chicken stock were potted up and set on the grill over direct heat, with a hunk of hickory tossed on the coals to further flavor the stock while the lid was closed to hasten the boil.
Once you’re at the boiling point, add in 1/2 cup quick grits with 1/4 tsp each of salt and pepper. Move the pot over to the indirect side of the grill for lower heat and cover, only opening to occasionally stir things up. Continue for about 5 minutes or until the grits are thickened. Uncover the grits, stir in 2 Tbsp milk and let ’em cook for another minute. Remove the pot from the fire and set aside somewhere to stay warm. In this case, that meant running them inside and out of these chilly winds.
Now to get that shrimp going! It’s gonna be a quickie, so have the ingredients at hand, the shrimp, 1/2 cup or so of diced red bell pepper, 2 tsp of minced fresh garlic, and 2 slices of quality bacon, diced.
Toss a tablespoon of oil and the raw bacon bits into a preheated cast iron pan and stir around, releasing that fat into the pan until the bacon is crispy and browned.
Add the chopped bell pepper, and after a minute or two, the minced garlic.
Once you’re looking good, scatter the marinated shrimp in the pan and stir until the shrimp are done. It’ll only be a couple of minutes over high heat. I took them off a little earlier than normal because I knew they would continue to cook in the cast iron.
Now we build. Spoon those creamy, smokey grits into a bowl and generously top off with the shrimp, making sure you get some of the roasted garlic, bell pepper, and crispy bacon bits mixed in for an outstanding Shrimp and Grits bowl that’s hearty, satisfying, and just dang delicious. Finish it off with a scattering of fresh chopped parsley to make it all pretty, and I’m tellin’ ya this will make you stand up on your curled up tippy toes and proclaim “Ayeee, that’s good!”.