We are but days away from Christmas.
At this point, every young heart is fluttering and tiny hands are itching to begin tearing, untying, and discarding all of that lovely gilded paper we adults have so carefully secured.
If I may, I would like to commandeer your Christmas Eve and insist that you make these shrimp and grits for you and your family this year. Throw tradition to the winter wind for a moment and embrace the pinnacle of neoclassic southern flavor.
While shrimp and grits are not the most conventional of holiday foods, the flavors here are full of festive charm.
Creamy grits, thick with gruyere and heavy cream are the bed for tender, garlic-kissed shrimp.
In my mind, this is the ideal pre-Christmas dinner. Preparation time is at a minimum, and the flavors are rich and comforting - the perfect prefix to your long winter’s nap.
My mama always made us the most wonderful Christmas breakfasts. One in particular reigns in my mind, because that was the first year that she brought home a strange and unusual fruit. She called it a pomegranate, and explained that we were only to eat the “seeds” of this exotic treasure trove.
From the pink, leathery skin, flowed out hundreds of gem-like arils that we ate with vigor and enthusiasm.
Ever since that moment, that early, Christmas-morning moment, I have been a faithful lover of the otherworldly fruit and its singular texture and flavor. It tops my morning yogurt, studs my salads, and this year, it is bringing an acidic punch and welcome crunch to shrimp and grits.
I sometimes wonder if I would still love pistachios as much if not for their bright, chartreuse hue.
These near-neon nuts combine with the sharp pomegranate arils to make a veritable Christmas wreath atop our shrimp and grits.
You will not find any cinnamon, cloves, rosemary, or thyme here, but this dish is every kind of comforting.
I made this dish last week, and as the shrimp were sizzling away on my stove I stood over the pot of grits with a very large spoon and ate them straight from the pot. Gruyere has a way of making everything irresistible. Heavy cream doesn’t hurt one bit either.
Come on, let’s get on this cheese-fueled bandwagon together.
Winter Shrimp & Grits
for the shrimp
- 1 lb fresh shrimp (peeled and deveined)
- 3 medium cloves garlic, minced
- 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
- 1/3 cup white wine
In a large, nonstick frying pan, melt 2 tablespoons butter over medium heat. Add garlic and cook for 1-2 minutes; until fragrant and just slightly browned.
Add the shrimp and cook for 2-3 minutes, until their color has started to develop, then add the wine.
Simmer for an additional 3-4 minutes, until their color is full and they are just firm to the touch. The edges of the shrimp should not wrinkle up - that is a sign of over-cooking!
Remove from heat and add the remaining tablespoon of butter. Allow to cool slightly while you prepare the grits.
for the grits
- 2 cups chicken broth
- 1 cup whole milk
- 1 cup yellow corn grits or polenta
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 1 cup heavy whipping cream
- 1 1/4 cups grated gruyere
- 2 teaspoons kosher salt
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1/4 cup roasted, salted pistachios
- 1/4 cup pomegranate arils
In a medium saucepan, combine milk and chicken broth and place over medium high heat. Bring the mixture just to a boil then reduce heat to medium and add grits.
Cook, stirring constantly, until the mixture thickens to a porridge consistency; about 2 minutes.
Remove the grits from the heat and stir in butter and heavy whipping cream. Fold in gruyere, salt, and pepper.
Place a heavy spoonful of the hot grits into four bowls and top with the prepared shrimp. Ladle any cooking liquid left from the shrimp over the bowl. Sprinkle with pomegranate arils and pistachios. Serve immediately. Enjoy!