Shrimp and Tasso Gravy over Pimento Cheese Grits

Adapted from a recipe by Stephen Crowe, at The Farmers Shed in Lexington, SC, as featured on Food Network’s Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives)

Ingredients

Grits:

4 cups broth (chicken or vegetable or seafood, or any combination)
1 tsp salt
4TBL butter
1 cup stone-ground white grits
1/4 cup half & half
1/2 cup good pimento cheese spread

Tasso Gravy:

3/4 cup leek thinly sliced across the stalk
1/2 cup julienned red bell pepper
1/2 cup julienned yellow or orange bell pepper
1/4 cup finely sliced shallot
2 oz finely diced tasso ham
1 TBL chili powder
1 TBL smoked paprika
1 1/2 tsp dried basil
1 1/2 tsp dried thyme
2 1/4 tsp dried oregano
1 1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp granulated garlic
Small pinch seafood seasoning, such as Old Bay
1 1/2 cups clam juice
1 1/2 cups tomato juice
1 cup half & half
1/4 cup white wine, e.g. Chardonnay or Pinot Grigio
1/4 cup all-purpose flour and 3 tsp melted butter (for thickening sauce if necessary)
1/4 cup finely sliced scallions for garnish

Shrimp:

2 lb medium or large shrimp, shelled and deveined
2 TBL butter

Directions

Grits:  Bring the broth, and salt to a boil in a sauce pan. Very slowly pour in the grits, stirring constantly.  Reduce the heat, and continue to cook for 20 - 30 minutes, stirring frequently until done. Add the butter, half & half, and pimento cheese, and stir well to combine.  Keep warm over a water bath until ready to serve.

Tasso Gravy:  Saute the tasso ham in a large saute pan with a little olive oil until the ham is slightly browned and most of the fat has rendered. Remove the ham with a slotted spoon and reserve on some paper towel. Add the leeks, peppers, and shallot to the grease in the pan and saute until soft or even lightly brown.  Add the chile powder, paprika, basil, thyme, oregano, pepper, salt, garlic, and seafood seasoning, and stir well to mix.  Add the clam juice, tomato juice, and white wine and simmer for 10 minutes.  Add the half & half and simmer for 15 minutes. If the sauce seems too thin, make a roux with the flour and melted butter in a small bowl, and add a little at a time to the gravy, stirring constantly, until the desired consistency is reached.  You don’t want a thick gravy. It should be fairly runny, and you may not need the flour roux at all.  Add the ham to the gravy and reduce the heat to very low.  Saute the shrimp in 2 TBL butter in a separate large saute pan until pink, then transfer the shrimp to the gravy pan using a slotted spoon, and simmer for 2 minutes.

To Serve:  Spoon some grits onto each plate or bowl, and spoon some of the shrimp mixture around the grits.  Top with some of the finely sliced scallion to garnish.  

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