Spicy Cajun Shrimp and Grits

Rotel is my lifeblood; it is basically the only way I consume tomatoes happily, and I replace every instance of “1 can diced tomatoes” with “1 can Rotel” in my recipes. But here in New York, the so-called greatest city in the world, finding Rotel is a full-time job, if not an impossible dream.  Specific groceries are a pin to find here anyway, but I have been everywhere for Rotel with no success. I have even contacted my friendly neighborhood agricultural conglomeration ConAgra to try to get an idea of where it might be stocked within a 50 mile radius. To no avail.

So now, every time my mom sends me a package, she stuffs all the crevices of the flat rate box with cans of Rotel.  Thanks, mom! And with a fresh shipment in, and summer around the corner, this is all I want to eat! Bonus: it only takes about 30 minutes start to finish.

Cajun Shrimp and Grits

adapted from Downhome with the Neelys

For the Grits

  • 4 cups chicken broth (I love better than bullion myself)
  • 1/2 cup whipping cream
  • 1 cup grits (quick cooking will work, but stone ground is better.  More hearty and toothsome)
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 Tbsp butter
  • 1/4 cup parmesan or a parmesan blend. Stay away from the powdered stuff. Real melty cheese please!

For the Shrimp and Sausage

  • 2 Tbsp bacon grease
  • 1/2 medium onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 green bell pepper, chopped
  • 1/2 lb andouille sausage, sliced on the diagonal in 1/2″ slices (if you can find some house made near you, do that. Otherwise I like Aidell’s, and I just use the whole package.  Cause sausage!)
  • 1 lb uncooked shrimp, peeled and deveined (confession:not the biggest shrimp lover… and sometimes I just do sausage. Sausage!)
  • 1/4 cup dry white wine or vermouth. Cause who has actual wine hanging around?
  • 2 10-oz cans Rotel, or 1 can Rotel plus one plain diced tomatoes if you are boring/chile averse
  • chopped chives for garnish

In a heavy bottomed saucepan or dutch oven, bring the chicken stock and whipping cream to a low simmer, being careful not to scald the cream.  While simmering, whisk in the grits and a pinch of salt. Stir constantly while returning to a low simmer. Cook until thickened, probably 5-15 minutes depending on if you went with quick cooking or stone ground, but should correspond to the package directions.  Once thickened, turn off heat and stir in cheese and butter.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Heat a large sauté pan over medium heat. Melt bacon grease and sauté onion and green bell pepper until tender and translucent. Add garlic and sauté for about 1 more minute (garlic tends to burn), pile to the side wok-style, then add sausage. Brown cut sides of sausage, about 2 minutes a side, then add shrimp and sauté for 2 minutes.  Add white wine and Rotel/tomatoes.  Bring to a boil, about 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.

Serve shrimp mixture over grits and sprinkle with chopped chives.

Serves 4-6, depending on the number of men/southerners eating.

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