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Southern cooking on a budget...
Sometimes, I will see a recipe for the first time and it's like the heavens open up and a radiant light shines down on me. That's what happened when I saw this recipe for Shrimp and Grits Dressing from Southern Living. It sounded wonderful and perfect for Thanksgiving dinner. Last weekend, I decided to do a test run just to see how it would turn out. I had my fears that the grits would be too dense and rubbery. But, it was absolutely perfect and I made another batch Thursday morning. I, of course, had to make a few changes (improvements) here and there which I'll share here with you.
This was a huge hit when I unveiled it at our Thanksgiving dinner yesterday. My cousin had seen the recipe in this month's magazine and just had to take a photo of it and send it to her friend. All of the shrimp-eaters in the family loved it. And, I think you will, too.
Shrimp and Grits Dressing
1 pound peeled, medium-size raw shrimp
3 cups chicken broth
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. ground red pepper
1 cup uncooked regular grits
1/2 cup butter
3 large eggs, lightly beaten
1 red bell pepper, diced
1 cup fine, dry breadcrumbs
1 cup chopped green onions
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Devein shrimp, if desired.
Bring broth and next two ingredients to a boil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Whisk in grits, and return to a boil; reduce heat to low, and stir in butter. Cover and simmer, stirring occasionally, 10 minutes or until liquid is absorbed. Remove from heat.
Stir together eggs and next four ingredients in a large bowl. Gradually stir about one-fourth of hot grits mixture into egg mixture; add egg mixture to remaining hot grits mixture, stirring constantly. Stir in shrimp until well blended. Pour grits mixture into a lightly greased 11-x 7-inch baking dish.
Bake at 325 degrees for 55 minutes to 1 hour or until mixture is set. Let stand 10 minutes.
I always cut up my veggies before I start cooking. I just like to have them waiting for me. The first time I made this recipe, I used the amounts given in the original recipe and made an 11"x7" dish. I knew I would need more to feed a bigger crowd, so I used 50% more ingredients to make a 9"x13" dish for Thanksgiving. I used four eggs plus a tablespoon of water in the larger recipe. Otherwise, everything else increased by 50% rather easily. In addition to the red peppers and green onions, I stretched the larger batch with a half of a green bell pepper.
Here's some more tweaking I did. I added chopped fresh garlic (several cloves), a sprinkling of Old Bay seafood seasoning and kosher salt, and a splash of cooking sherry to the shrimp. I wanted every layer of the dressing to be loaded with flavor. I let the shrimp marinate while I prepared the grits.
Let me share a little fact about grits with you. Grits need a fair amount of salt to make them delicious. I could tell by looking at the recipe that a 1/2 of a teaspoon wouldn't be enough for my tastebuds. I added one teaspoon to the original recipe. This extra amount of salt added to the grits combined with the flavors I added to the shrimp made this absolutely perfect.
Words cannot express how absolutely amazing this tastes! Even if you don't like grits, I want you to try this. The grits were moist and flavorful and the texture is truly that of dressing. I believe I have started a new Thanksgiving tradition. I hardly think I can show up next year without this dish. That could lead to an uprising of historial proportions!