Just in time to celebrate Fat Tuesday or Mardi Gras 2012 is my take on some kicked up Shrimp and Grits. I have some very special friends who are from New Orleans and have introduced me to the lively food that is served in the French Quarter and I hope that this dish fits right in and finds a spot at your dinner table.
This is a gulf state so of course fresh shrimp is an obvious choice. Another key to this dish is the holy trinity of Cajun cooking made up of onion, celery, and bell pepper. I swap out the onion for the gentler and sweeter shallot to complement the shrimp.
- A little history about this celebration: Although we can trace its history to the Romans, a French-Canadian explorer, Jean Baptiste Le Moyne Sieur de Bienville, landed on a plot of ground 60 miles directly south of New Orleans in 1699 and called it “Pointe due Mardi Gras.” He also established “Fort Louis de la Louisiane” (which is now Mobile) in 1702. In 1703, the tiny settlement of Fort Louis de la Mobile celebrated the very first Mardi Gras.
- In the early 1740s, Louisiana’s Governor The Marquis de Vaudreuil established elegant society balls — the model for the New Orleans Mardi Gras balls of today.
- The first Mardi Gras parade was held in New Orleans on February 24, 1857 by the Krewe of Comus. They began the tradition of presenting a parade with floats and following it with a ball for the krewe and their guests.
- 1872 was the year that a group of businessmen invented a King of Carnival — Rex — to parade in the first daytime parade. They introduced the Mardi Gras colors of purple, green and gold; the Mardi Gras song, and the Mardi Gras flag. Purple stands for justice, green for faith, and gold for power.
- In 1873, the first floats were constructed entirely in New Orleans instead of France. In 1875, Governor Warmoth of Louisiana signs the “Mardi Gras Act” making it a legal holiday in Louisiana, which is still is.
Happy Fat Tuesday – Chef Amy
|Mardi Gras Shrimp and Grits||
- 1 c. water
- 1 c. chicken broth, low sodium
- 1/2 c. heavy cream
- 1/8 t. kosher salt
- 1/8 t. pepper, freshly ground
- 1/2 c. stone ground grits
- 1/4 c. parmesan cheese, grated
- 2 c. grape tomatoes, cut in half
- 1 lg. shallot, chopped
- 2 t. olive oil
- 1 t. balsamic vinegar
- 3 oz. Applewood smoked thick cut bacon, diced
- 1/2 c. red bell pepper
- 1/2 c. celery, diced
- 1 1/4 pounds of shrimp, peeled and deveined
- 1 t. Cajun seasoning, or more to taste
- 1 T. parsley, chopped
- 3 T. green onion, chopped
- 1 lg. garlic cloves, minced
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
- In a heavy saucepan bring water, chicken broth and heavy cream to a boil. Add salt and pepper. Add grits whisking continually so they incorporate without lumps.
- Reduce heat to a simmer and cook until liquid is absorbed and grits are no longer crunchy, about 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Remove from heat and stir in cheese. If the mixture gets too thick add in 1/4 c. water or broth at a time.
- In a medium bowl add tomatoes, shallots and olive oil. Season with salt and pepper.
- Place the mixture on a cookie sheet covered with foil (easier cleanup) and arrange in a single layer. Roast for 15-20 min or until lightly browned.
- Add the balsamic vinegar and toss.
- Rinse shrimp and pat dry. In a bowl toss with Cajun seasoning.
- Fry the bacon in a large skillet until browned; remove and drain well.
- In grease, add bell pepper and celery and saute over medium heat for 3-5 minutes or until softened.
- Add seasoned shrimp and cook until shrimp turn pink, being careful not to overcook. Add chopped bacon, parsley, green onion and garlic. Saute for 3 minutes.
- Spoon grits into a serving bowl and top with roasted tomatoes and shallots. Add shrimp mixture and serve immediately.
To spice it up further add 3-4 oz. of Andouille sausage.