This recipe for Bourbon Glazed Cajun Shrimp with Bacon and Cheddar Grits is Inspired by my love and memories of New Orleans culture and cuisine. I make no claims that this recipe is traditional to the south or to Louisiana by any means, but it is certainly inspired by the flavors and techniques of Cajun and Creole cooking. The grits are creamy and dripping with cheese, and the salty bacon and bright scallion greens combine beautifully with the shrimp and spices for a balanced dish. This recipe was inspired by techniques used on the Joy the Baker blog.
For more information, see the full post on my blog, Feast In Thyme: http://feastinthyme.com/cajun-shrimp-and-cheddar-grits/ —Kristen Roberts
Bring broth and water to a boil in a medium non-stick sauce pan with a lid. Whisk in the grits - this avoids clumping. Stir in the salt and pepper. Lower the heat to a simmer, cover, and allow the water to absorb into the cornmeal. Cooking times for grits can vary depending on your type of cornmeal – refer to the instructions on the package if in doubt. Mine took approximately 20 minutes, but some can take as long as 40 minutes. When thickened, remove from heat and stir in the grated cheese and butter. Keep warm.
As your grits are cooking, get started on the shrimp. First, cook the bacon in your largest skillet until the fat it rendered and just crispy – be careful not to burn. Transfer the cooked bacon to a plate covered in paper towels to absorb the excess grease and keep warm. Crumble or chop the bacon into bite-size pieces once it’s cool enough to handle.
Drain all but 2 tablespoons of the bacon fat from the skillet, and return it to the burner over medium heat. Sprinkle the dried herbs and spices (through the cayenne pepper) into the bacon fat and fry for 1 minute. Reduce heat to medium low and carefully pour the bourbon into the skillet, scraping the pan to loosen up the browned bits and spices. Allow the bourbon glaze to reduce for 3-5 minutes, but be careful not to let it burn.
Toss the shrimp in the salt and pepper, and then add them to the pan in an even layer. Stir to evenly coat the shrimp in spices and bourbon glaze, and cook until pink on both sides (about 4 minutes). Pour in the lemon juice, and scatter the crumbled bacon and scallions into the skillet, tossing to combine. Cook for an additional 3-5 minutes. Taste, and add additional salt if necessary.
Divide the grits among your serving bowls, and spoon a generous helping of the shrimp mixture over each. Enjoy immediately with a glass of your favorite bourbon – straight or in a cocktail.