As of late, I’ve been intrigued with regional food dishes. You know, like Manhattan Clam Chowder, Boston Baked Beans, Philadelphia Cheese Steaks, Texas Chili ... that kind of stuff. How did those dishes come to be? Why, for example, do some areas like their food spicy while others prefer sweet or buttery?
Not too long ago, during one of my owl-hour insomnia bouts, I watched some sort of New Orleans cook-off show. Unfortunately, I tuned into the program with literally only a few seconds left, but I committed it to memory, and turned to the internet for instructions. It’s a New Orleans style spicy sausage and shrimp dish served over grits.
I’m really not familiar with New Orleans cuisine, but I’ve heard it boasts some of the finest food around. The cuisine of that area is based on a melting pot of cultures, and I decided that was the perfect place to start my regional culinary education.
First and foremost, let me say this is a spicy recipe, at least the sauce is. I’m talking sinus clearing, soul shaking, and full flavored spice. That said, I should also point out that my taste buds are kind of wimpy when it comes to caliente seasoning, so you may find this to simply be full flavored. I was reaching for tissues.
Despite the flame throwing heat from the sauce (ok, it’s not that bad), I actually found myself wanting to eat more instead of less! Have you ever done that? You know, where you eat something spicy, your mouth is on fire, and for some reason the burn is not a bad thing? It’s almost like the only way to not feel the heat is to keep eating more? I’m keeping my fingers crossed that at least one of you is nodding.
For this recipe there are ways to tone down the heat. Since most of the heat comes from the sauce, serve it on the side (I did). I also thinned out some of the Grilled Onion Blue Cheese Dressing I made yesterday, and used it as a side sauce, too. It was a magnificent match. The sauce that goes with the dish is a fiery buffalo style hot sauce, so it just made good sense to have them together.Isn’t it gorgeous? Don’t for a second be put off by the three components; it’s really easy to make. Here it is:
Spicy Sausage and Shrimp with Creamy Grits
1 tablespoon butter
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 onion – diced
1 green pepper – diced
3 cloves garlic – minced
½ cup white wine
1 package Cajun Style Andouille Sausage (I used Aidells 12 oz pkg), sliced thin on bias
About 1 lb of 26/30 size shrimp, cooked and deveined
Diced tomatoes – I used about 1 cup of the little grape guys that I halved.
Fresh ground black pepper
1 teaspoon Old Bay Seasoning
Couple shakes Montreal Steak Seasoning
½ cup cream
½ cup milk
1 cup water
2 T butter
5 Tablespoons Grits
Lawrey’s Seasoned Salt
½ cup bottled Buffalo Style hot sauce
1 teaspoon butter
1 teaspoon Lemon Juice
½ cup white wine
1 shallot diced
½ cup cream
In a large high sided skillet or dutch oven, melt the butter into the olive oil over medium high heat. Add the onions, grn pepper, and garlic, and sauté until they start to wilt. Do not brown them. Add the sliced sausage and sauté until just starting to brown. Stir in the tomatoes and seasonings and give a good stir. Fold in the shrimp until heated through and thoroughly coated. Keep warm until ready to serve.
Meanwhile, make the grits. In a non-stick sauce pan, add all of the ingredients except the salts and bring to a boil. Turn heat to low, cover, and let simmer for about 20 minutes. It should be very creamy, but have some body to it. Stir in the salt and seasoned salt.
For the spicy sauce, in a sauté pan, combine the hot sauce, butter, lemon juice, wine, and shallot. Bring to a gentle boil; take off the burner. Stir in the cream. Done.
Here’s how I plated it. I put down a creamy mound of grits, and lovingly ladled the spicy sausage and shrimp mixture over it.See how creamy they are? I spooned some of each sauce onto the side of the plate to dip into. Like I said, to cool this down, I also used some of the Grilled Onion Blue Cheese Dressing from yesterday. If you like to walk on the wild side, pour some of the spicy sauce right on top. Oh, and this is gluten free, all the way, baby!Mmmm .... take a bite. So, do you walk on the wild side?