April 19, 2012

Recipe: Hot and Hot Fish Club’s Creamy Shrimp and Grits with Country Ham

We recently packed our bags and headed down to Birmingham for lunch with some of our media friends at Chris and Idie Hastings’ Hot and Hot Fish Club, where we munched on some of the best shrimp and grits the South has to offer. You don’t have to go all the way to Alabama to taste them yourself: the Hastings were kind enough to share their recipe (and the story behind it) with us here.


Hot and Hot Creamy Shrimp and Grits with Country Ham
Serves 4


At a young age, Chris learned that food was not to be wasted. He and his cousins used to catch small, brown creek shrimp for his mother to use in a traditional low country boil to serve at dinnertime. Leftover boiled shrimp were peeled and placed in a quick, pickle brine and refrigerated overnight. In the morning the pickled shrimp were served for breakfast over warm grits along with bacon and eggs. That was the original shrimp and grits. At the Hot and Hot Fish Club, we serve shrimp and grits every night. Although this version is different from the one Chris ate as a child, the main elements still remain: shrimp, grits and an acidic sauce. In this recipe we use verjus to give the shrimp sauce an extra zing. Verjus is an acidic, tart liquid made from unripe grapes and can sometimes be found at specialty food stores. You can also substitute cider vinegar for the verjus with similar results.



1 pound medium shrimp (25 to 30 count), peeled and deveined

11/4 teaspoons kosher salt, divided

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, divided

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, divided

1/4 cup minced shallots

1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme

1/2 cup equal parts finely diced carrots, celery, and onions (mirepoix)

1/2 cup blond verjus or cider vinegar

1 cup seeded and finely diced tomatoes

31/2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley

2 cups McEwen and Sons Yellow Stone-Ground Grits

1/4 cup thinly sliced country ham, julienned

2 tablespoons chopped fresh chives, for garnish



Season the shrimp with 1 teaspoon of the salt and 1/4 teaspoon of the pepper.

Melt 1/4 cup (1/2 stick) of the butter in a large sauté pan or rondeau over medium-high heat. Add the shallots and thyme and sauté for 1 minute, being careful not to let the shallots brown. Add the diced carrots, celery, and onions and continue to cook for 2 to 3 minutes, stirring frequently. Add the seasoned shrimp and cook, stirring frequently, until the shrimp are cooked halfway, about 2 minutes.

While the shrimp are cooking, dice the remaining 3/4 cup (11/2 sticks) butter and set aside. Deglaze the pan with the verjus and stir in the tomatoes. Cook for 3 to 4 minutes or until the tomatoes and shrimp are cooked through and the liquid has reduced by half. Reduce the heat to low and stir in the lemon juice. Add the diced butter, a little at a time, stirring until each portion is incorporated before more butter is added. Season the sauce with the remaining 1/4 teaspoon of salt and 1/4 teaspoon of pepper. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the parsley.

Place 1/2 cup of the grits on 4 dinner plates and spoon equal amounts of the shrimp and sauce mixture over each portion of grits. Garnish each plate with 1 rounded tablespoon of country ham and 1/2 tablespoon of fresh, chopped chives. Serve immediately.