Shrimp & Grits, Part 2: Extreme Andouille Edition

As I mentioned in my post yesterday, this week's special at Bennett's focused around the classic southern comfort food Shrimp & Grits. I wanted to build it into something a little bit more complex, but still really heartwarming.  We made a special shrimp stock just for this recipe, as well as a house-made andouille sausage. I won't go into how we made the sausage here, but you can certainly substitute your favorite local butcher's andouille or chorizo instead.  Uli's Famouse Sausage in Pike Place Market is a great option if you're in downtown Seattle; just make sure to get it in bulk form. Sometimes when andouille is in its casing it can be a little harder than you'll want for this recipe. The other alternative is to just slice open the casing of the sausage and use the interior meat.

Makes 4 servings

Paprika-Prawn Olio
16 shrimp (about 1 lb)
1 small leek, rough chopped
1 bunch celery, rough chopped
1 red bell pepper, rough chopped
3 cloves garlic, diced
10 cups water, divided
1/2 cup unsalted butter
1/4 cup white flour
3 Tbsp tomato paste
1 tsp oregano
1/2 tsp smoked paprika
2 Tbsp red wine vinegar
2 tsp Old Bay seasoning
1/2 tsp black pepper
1/4 tsp granulated garlic
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
1 tsp salt

New Orleans Vegetable Mix
1/2 yellow bell pepper, chopped
1/2 green bell pepper, chopped
1/2 red onion, chopped
1 jalapeno
1 1/3 Tbsp canola oil, divided
1/2 bunch parsley, chopped

1 cup grits
4 oz Smoked Flagship, grated (about 1 cup)
8 oz andouille sausage


For the paprika-prawn olio, start by cleaning the shrimp, reserving the shells but leaving the tails on. Combine the leeks, half of the celery, half the red pepper and the garlic with the shrimp shells in a large pot. Fill the pot with water just until it reaches the top of the shells (depending on the pot, probably about 6 cups). Bring this to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 45 minutes. Strain the mixture, discarding the solids and reserving the broth.
Combine the butter and flour in a pot and mix over medium heat to make a thin roux. Add the shrimp broth and stir in the tomato paste, oregano, smoked paprika, red wine vinegar, Old Bay, black pepper and granulated garlic.  Add half of the cayenne pepper and half of the salt. Check the taste of the paprika-prawn olio and add the additional cayenne pepper and salt to taste. Reserve.

To make the New Orleans Vegetable Mix, combine the yellow and green bell peppers, red onion, jalapeno, and the remaining bell peppers and celery. Sautée the mixture in a medium-size pan over medium heat with 2 teaspoons of canola oil.  Sautée for 1 minute 30 seconds and add the parsley. Finish sautéeing for another 30 seconds. Set aside.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Boil the remaining water (about 4 cups) in a saucepan with a teaspoon of salt, and slowly stir in the grits. Cover, reduce the heat to low, and cook for four minutes, stirring occasionally. Stir in the cheese and cook until the grits have reached your desired consistency and the cheese has melted(about 1 to 2 additional minutes). A little “texture” is preferable. Reserve.

Break sausage into small 1-inch rounds, place them on a wax papered sheet pan and roast in the oven for 10 minutes. Reserve.

Sautée the shrimp in a sautee pan in remaining canola oil over medium heat, just enough to brown, about 2 minutes. Add the roasted andouille for 10 seconds and then remove from heat and toss in the pan.

To serve, plate the grits in the middle of the plate with the vegetable mixture along one side and the sausage along the other. Place four shrimp on the grits just over the sausage, leaving a nice space of white where the grits show between the vegetables and the shrimp. Pour the paprika-prawn olio around the edge of the food to make a consistent pool of sauce.

Note: There are a lot of things you can play around with in this recipe. Increase the heat with more jalapeno (or decrease it with less), how creamy you like your grits, how creamy you like the paprika-prawn olio, etc. If you want to boost the seafood flavor of the shrimp stock, try adding a little clam juice. Shrimp and grits is one of those dishes that have as many different versions as there are families. Tell me if you try this recipe, or what your favorite version of it is!
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Lover of big ideas and bold flavors. Food should be like family and friends: honest, fun, and fulfilling.

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