Old Charleston Style Shrimp and Grits

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Ingredients
1 cup coarsely ground grits
3 cups water
2 teaspoons salt
2 cups half-and-half
2 pounds uncooked shrimp, peeled and deveined
salt to taste
1 pinch cayenne pepper, or to taste
1 lemon, juiced
1 pound andouille sausage, cut into 1/4-inch slices
5 slices bacon
1 green bell pepper, chopped
1 red bell pepper, chopped
1 yellow bell pepper, chopped
1 cup chopped onion
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1/4 cup butter
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup chicken broth
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1 cup shredded sharp Cheddar cheese

Directions
Bring water, grits, and salt to a boil in a heavy saucepan with a lid. Stir in half-and-half and simmer until grits are thickened and tender, 15 to 20 minutes. Set aside and keep warm.
Sprinkle shrimp with salt and cayenne pepper; drizzle with lemon juice. Set aside in a bowl.
Place andouille sausage slices in a large skillet over medium heat; fry sausage until browned, 5 to 8 minutes. Remove skillet from heat.
Cook bacon in a large skillet over medium-high heat, turning occasionally, until evenly browned, about 10 minutes. Retain bacon drippings in skillet. Transfer bacon slices to paper towels, let cool, and crumble.
Cook and stir green, red, and yellow bell peppers, onion, and garlic in the bacon drippings until the onion is translucent, about 8 minutes.
Stir shrimp and cooked vegetables into the andouille sausage and mix to combine.
Melt butter in a saucepan over medium heat; stir in flour to make a smooth paste. Turn heat to low and cook, stirring constantly, until the mixture is medium brown in color, 8 to 10 minutes. Watch carefully, mixture burns easily.
Pour the butter-flour mixture into the skillet with andouille sausage, shrimp, and vegetables. Place the skillet over medium heat and pour in chicken broth, bacon and Worcestershire sauce, cooking and stirring until the sauce thickens and the shrimp become opaque and bright pink, about 8 minutes.
Just before serving, mix sharp Cheddar cheese into grits until melted and grits are creamy and light yellow. Serve shrimp mixture over cheese grits.

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Seafood Okra Gumbo

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My favorite food stop when I visited the French Quarter last summer was the Gumbo Shop. The food there was amazing. I did my best to try and recreate their famous gumbo from a recipe on their website. Here are photos and the recipe below. Note – I used Andouille sausage sliced into 1/2″ rounds instead of crab.

Ingredients:

2 pounds fresh or frozen shrimp, head on about 40-50 count per poundound
2 small blue crabs, fresh or frozen
3 quarts water 2 Tablespoons cooking oil
1 quart fresh or frozen okra, sliced into 1/2″ rounds
2/3 cup cooking oil
1/2 cup all purpose flour
2 cups chopped onions
1 cup chopped green bell pepper
1/2 cup chopped celery
1 teaspoon garlic, finely chopped
1 16oz. can chopped tomatoes
2 bayleaves
2 teaspoons salt, or to taste
1/2 teaspoon black pepper (or to taste)
1/2 teaspoon white pepper (or to taste)
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper (or to taste)

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Directions:

Peel and de-vein the shrimp, and set aside, covered in the refrigerator. Rinse the shrimp shells and heads, place in a non-reactive stock pot along with 2 quarts of water. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for 30 – 45 minutes to make a stock. Strain, discard the shells and heads and set the stock aside. Meanwhile, wash the crabs well under running water, place in a non-reactive pot with 1 quart of water, bring to a boil and simmer for 20 – 30 minutes. Strain, reserving stock and crabs. When the crabs are cool enough to handle, snap both claws off then break the body in half. Set aside.

In a heavy bottomed skillet, heat 2 tablespoons of oil , add the okra and saute over medium high heat for about 10 – 15 minutes or until all the “ropiness” is gone. This step may take a little longer if fresh okra is used. Frozen vegetables are usually plunged into boiling water and blanched before freezing, so they are partially cooked.

Place the 2/3 cup oil in a large (8 quart) heavy bottomed non-reactive Dutch oven type pot. Add the flour and, over a medium high fire, make a dark brown roux as described on page10. As soon as the proper color is achieved, add the onions, bell pepper, celery and garlic and saute, stirring occasionally until tender. During this process, allow the vegetables to stick to the bottom of the pan a bit, then scrape the bottom with a metal spoon or spatula. This allows some of the natural sugars in the onions to caramelize, rendering great depth of flavor.

When the seasoning vegetables are tender add the tomatoes, bay leaves and the three peppers and a little salt. Cook for about 10 minutes, repeating the stick and scrape process with the tomatoes. Add the sauteed okra and cook for 10 more minutes.

Add the crab stock and half of the shrimp stock to the pot. Stirring constantly, bring the pot to a boil. Lower the heat a bit, partially cover and simmer for thirty minutes, stirring occasionally. If the gumbo appears too thick, add more stock to adjust. Add salt to taste and adjust the pepper if desired. Add the broken crabs and simmer for about 10 minutes. Add the peeled shrimp, return to a boil and simmer until the shrimp are firm and pink, about 5 minutes. Remove the pot from heat.

As is the case with most gumbos, this dish is best prepared either early in the day it is to be served, or even the day before, thereby allowing time for the flavors to marry. When reheating, stir often and be careful to avoid overcooking the shrimp.

Serve in large bowls over steamed rice. This recipe will yield about six entrees or ten to twelve appetizers.

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Seafood Okra Gumbo