Every summer we go to the beach and feast on Carolina shrimp and grits, especially those at the Dockside restaurant. Here is my inland compromise using frozen shrimp when we're back home and the weather cools and the beach seems so far away.
You do have to make a roux and shrimp stock, but just freeze the leftover roux and stock, and the next time you make the shrimp and grits it's a snap.
Also the helpful guy at our local fish market says to always soak the frozen shrimp/shells in cold water for 5 minutes and drain before using. —Louisa
large frozen shrimp unpeeled
water with a bay leaf, some peppercorns and a clove of garlic
country ham cut in 1 x 1/2 inch strips
andouille sausage sliced 1/4"
milk (skim is fine)
coarse stone-ground grits (yellow preferred)
Peel the shrimp, saving shells.
Devein the shrimp.
Soak the shrimp and their shells in cold water for 5 minutes.
Drain the shrimp and refrigerate.
Drain the shells and set aside.
Make a roux.
Heat the oil in a heavy skillet over medium heat.
Lower the heat and whisk in the flour.
Whisk constantly until the roux is dark brown, about 20 minutes.
Remove from heat and set aside.
*Any leftover roux can be frozen later.
Make the shrimp stock.
Simmer the shells in the 7 cups water with the bay leaf, peppercorns and garlic clove for 20 minutes or so.
Remove from heat, strain and set aside.
*Leftover stock can also be frozen.
Melt butter in a large skillet.
Brown the country ham and sausage in the melted butter.
Whisk in 1/2 C roux and 3 cups warm shrimp stock.
Simmer gently while you make the grits (part 2).
Add coarse ground pepper, but no salt.
*Add 1/4 C water if the gravy gets too thick.
Bring the water and milk to a simmer in a pot.
Whisk in the grits and salt.
Cook gently on low heat, whisking frequently.
Cooking time depends on the type of grits you're using, so check the package.
Turn off heat, stir in the butter.
Keep grits partially covered and stir occasionally.
Now it's time to add the shrimp to the gently simmering gravy.
They will only need to cook a few minutes.
To serve, scoop a cup of grits into a rimmed soup bowl or plate. Ladle shrimp gravy on top of the grits.
Serve chopped green onions and diced tomatoes as condiments, and a variety of hot sauces for those who like their shrimp and grits spicy.