It’s been nearly three years since the Deepwater Horizon oil spill disaster in the Gulf of Mexico, and the repercussions still linger. Tar balls continue to wash up on shore as we wait patiently to learn how much BP will pay in restitution. But the fishing, shrimping, and oyster industries have rebounded in strides, as restaurants on the coast and inland support our ocean’s harvest.
Friend and Chef Chris Hastings of Hot and Hot Fish Club in Birmingham, Alabama, has played a significant role in supporting the industry, spearheading a campaign with the Alabama Seafood Marketing Commission to bring awareness and support to Alabama Gulf seafood, and sharing recipes like his Alabama Bouillabaisse with the reading public.
We sourced our Alabama Gulf shrimp from local seller Doc’s Seafood Market in Muscle Shoals, just across the river, for this recipe from the Hot and Hot Fish Club Cookbook.
HOT AND HOT CREAMY SHRIMP AND GRITS (with just a few tweaks of our own)
1 pound medium (25 to 30 count) shrimp, peeled and deveined
1 1/4 teaspoons kosher salt, divided
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, divided
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, divided
1/4 cup minced shallots
1/2 cup equal parts finely diced carrots, celery, and onion (mirepoix)
1 cup seeded and finely diced tomatoes
3 1/2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon chopped parsley
2 cups cooked McEwen & Sons organic stone-ground grits
1/4 cup diced bacon
2 tablespoons chopped parsley or fresh chives for garnish
Season the shrimp with 1 teaspoon of the salt and 1/4 teaspoon of the pepper.
Melt 1/4 cup (1/2 stick) of the butter in a large sauté pan or rondeau over medium-high heat. Add the shallots and sauté for 1 minute, being careful not to let the shallots brown. Add the mirepoix and continue to cook for 2 to 3 minutes, stirring frequently. Add the seasoned shrimp and cook, stirring frequently, until the shrimp are cooked halfway, about 2 minutes.
While the shrimp are cooking, dice the remaining 3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) butter and set aside. Stir in the tomatoes. Cook for 3 to 4 minutes or until the tomatoes and shrimp are cooked through. Reduce the heat to low and stir in the lemon juice. Add the diced butter, a few pieces at a time, stirring until each portion is incorporated before more butter is added. Season the sauce with the remaining 1/4 teaspoon of salt and 1/4 teaspoon of pepper. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the parsley.
Meanwhile, sauté the diced bacon until just cooked, and add to the pan.
Place 1/2 cup of the grits on four dinner plates and spoon equal amounts of the shrimp and sauce mixture over each portion of grits. Garnish each plate with 1 rounded tablespoon of country ham and 1/2 tablespoon of fresh, chopped parsley or chives. Serve immediately.
Reprinted from Hot and Hot Fish Club Cookbook by Chris and Idie Hastings. Available from Running Press, an imprint of The Perseus Books Group. Copyright © 2009