North Carolina Country Ham Seasoned Shrimp and Creamy Cheese Grits

This is a dish I made for the Seafood Category at the 2016 World Food Championships.

North Carolina country ham is where these shrimp and grits get their unique flavor, the ham imparts its unique taste to the whole dish. The combination of the 2 kinds of pork and Alabama Gulf shrimp in the gravy served over creamy stone ground cheesy grits imparts a unique flavor and texture combination. This is a dish that can be served for any meal of the day from breakfast to dinner.

For the Grits

1 cups cream
3 cups chicken broth
6 tablespoons butter
1/3 teaspoon salt
1/3 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons grits
1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese

Bring cream, chicken broth, butter, salt, and pepper to a boil in a medium saucepan. Reduce heat to a simmer and stir in grits. Cook for about 5 minutes stirring constantly to prevent lumps. Continue cooking for another 15 minutes on medium-low heat. Remove from heat and stir in cheddar cheese. Keep grits warm for serving.

For the Gravy

1 Tablespoon butter
1 Tablespoon Olive oil
1 Teaspoon Anchovy Paste
2 Tablespoons Tomato Paste
1 large sweet onion, chopped
2 stalks Celery, finely chopped
2 Tablespoons Bell Pepper
2 cloves garlic minced
1 Teaspoon Thyme
1 center cut Country Ham Steak
1 Teaspoon salt (or to taste)
1 1/2 cup seafood stock
1/2 cups cream
1 teaspoon chopped fresh parsley
3 Tablespoons diced fresh tomatoes.

In an iron skillet over medium high heat place the country ham and cook until well browned, remove and set aside. In the same pan, melt butter, add olive oil, add onions, celery, bell pepper and thyme saute gently until very soft and translucent. Add anchovy, garlic, and tomato paste. Add 1 cup seafood stock, reserve the remaining ½ cup to thin gravy if needed, and salt, bring to simmer, cook 10 minutes at a simmer. Lower heat to very low and add the cream. Keep warm for serving. Julienne the country ham into small strips and save for garnish.

For the Shrimp

2 pounds large shrimp, peeled and deveined
1/2 pound Andouille Sausage
½ Teaspoon Salt
½ Teaspoon Pepper
1 Teaspoon Old Bay Seasoning
1 Teaspoon Redneck Chef Seasoning

In a small bowl season the shrimp with salt, pepper and Old Bay Seasoning and Redneck Chef Seasoning, set aside. Heat saute pan over medium heat, add sausage, cook until the fat has rendered then add shrimp and cook till pink, do not overcook, about 4 minutes. Add shrimp and sausage to the gravy and toss to coat and heat all the way through.  

To Serve

Remove from heat. Place serving of hot creamy grits in each bowl and pour portion of shrimp mixture over the grits, garnish each serving with parsley, diced tomatoes, chopped green onions, and julienne of country ham.

Serves 6 hungry people or 8 regular people


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