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ShirmpGrits

One of my all-time favorite restaurants is Watershed in Atlanta — owned by Emily Saliers of the Indigo Girls and run by chef Scott Peacock, a James Beard Award winner. This place has the best Southern food I’ve ever had; hands down. And one of the best dishes on the menu is the shrimp grits with toasted pullman plank. The flavorful coarse-ground grits — prepared with butter, cream, sherry, lemon juice and a dash of cayenne — are blended with with chunks of fresh shrimp for a rich treat atop a crunchy piece of toast.

I decided to take a crack at recreating the dish at home, and I have to say it turned out pretty well for not having a blender or quality stone-ground grits to work with. The dish is concocted in two parts: the grits and the shrimp paste. Then you blend the two together.

Scott Peacock & Edna Lewis’ Shrimp Paste

2 sticks of butter

1 pound of shrimp

1/2 teaspoon of salt and pepper

1/4 cup sherry

2 tablespoons of fresh lemon juice

1/4 teaspoon of cayenne pepper

(1) Heat 6 tablespoons of butter in a skillet until it’s hot and foaming. Then add the shrimp, salt and pepper and cook over high heat for 4-7 minues.

(2) Remove shrimp with a slotted spoon to a blender (or chop on a cutting board if not blending).

(3) Add sherry, lemon juice, and cayenne pepper to the skillet and reduce over medium-high heat until syrupy.  Then add the liquid to the shrimp in the blender or food processor.

(4) As you blend the shrimp and juices, add the remaining butter in small pieces.

*Blend one cup of hot grits per 1/4 cup of shrimp paste to make the shrimp grits.  You can prepare the grits any number of ways, using cream, butter, chicken broth and/or other herbs and spices. After combining the paste with the grits, sprinkle with chives before serving.

*The shrimp paste recipe above makes 2 1/2 cups of paste — enough to feed 8-10 people when combined with grits.

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