The taste explosion of these firecracker-hot Louisiana shrimp against the backdrop of cheesy stone-ground grits is a marriage of culinary cultures.
Shrimp and grits are a Southern tradition that usually gets shortchanged in the competitive culinary landscape of Louisiana. While folks in the Carolinas love their grits, Cajun cooks are more rice-focused, and crawfish usually finds its way in the pot for an étouffée or bisque. That said, I’ve tasted some stellar shrimp and grit combinations along the bayou, and my recipe is one of them.
This recipe took shape when I was experimenting with a bag of polenta that I bought at my local Fresh Pickens produce market. First things first, polenta is just an exotic Italian name for yellow stone-ground corn grits. I like the coarse texture that stone grinding brings to corn grits rather than the typical smooth-textured store-bought white grits. And I use chicken stock rather than water for a boost of flavor. I experimented with various cheeses, but when I discovered the smoked Gouda (with bacon) at Champagne’s market, I just knew it would elevate this dish.
Rather than the standard pan-sautéed shrimp, I decided to batter and bread my jumbos and fry to a crispy golden brown. And I toss them in my Creole sauce mixture to build flavor and spice. Set atop a mound of my cheesy, stone-ground grits, this Creole Fried Shrimp and Smoked Gouda Grits will forever redefine this dish.
- 4 cups chicken stock
- 1 cup yellow stone-ground grits or polenta
- 4 tablespoons butter, divided
- 5 ounces shredded smoked Gouda cheese
- ¼ cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- ½ cup cornmeal
- 1 tablespoon garlic powder
- 1 tablespoon smoked paprika
- 2 cups buttermilk
- 2 eggs
- 1 tablespoon Acadiana Table Cajun Seasoning Blend, see recipe here
- 2 cups panko breadcrumbs
- 2 dozen extra-jumbo (16-20 count) Gulf shrimp, peeled, deveined, and butterflied
- ½ cup mayonnaise
- 4 tablespoons sriracha sauce
- 2 tablespoons ketchup
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 gallon vegetable oil
- ¼ cup diced green onion tops
- In a pot with a tight-fitting lid over medium-high heat, add the chicken stock and bring to a boil. Add the grits and whisk vigorously. Continue stirring the pot, and watch as the grits thicken, about 8 minutes. Lower the heat to a simmer, cover the pot, and cook for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Whisk in the butter and Gouda cheese and let melt.
- Just before serving, sprinkle over the Parmigiano-Reggiano. Keep warm.
- In a shallow bowl, add the flour, cornmeal, garlic powder, and blend.
- In a shallow bowl, add the buttermilk, eggs, Cajun seasoning, and whisk until blended.
- In a shallow bowl, add the breadcrumbs.
- In batches, add the shrimp to the flour mixture and coat lightly. Then add the shrimp to the liquid mixture and coat. Then roll in breadcrumbs until coated. Shake off the excess coating and place on a tray. Repeat until all the shrimp are prepped. Refrigerate the shrimp to set the breading.
- For the Creole sauce, whisk together the mayonnaise, sriracha, ketchup, lemon juice, and garlic powder in a bowl. Set aside.
- In a deep fryer or large fry-pot, add the oil and bring to a temperature of 350ºF.
- In batches, add the shrimp to the hot grease and fry until golden brown and crispy, about 5 minutes. Drain on a wire rack over paper towels.
- For serving, add the shrimp to a large mixing bowl and spoon over some Creole sauce. Toss the shrimp in the sauce to coat. Add the shrimp on top of the grits and garnish with a sprinkle of green onion tops.
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