Shrimp Cognac with Andouille Cracked-corn Grits
Shrimp and grits are low-country fare, but we’ve given them a whole new attitude. The healthy amount of Creole seasoning, mushrooms, demi-glace, and cognac help the transformation. And like everything in life, there are grits and then there are grits. Make the effort to get stone-ground grits (like those from Anson Mills) and you will understand why some people compare grits to polenta. Not watery, but creamy and rich and oh so flavorful.
Serves 4 as a main course
24 large (16/20) shrimp, peeled and deveined
4 teaspoons Creole seasoning
4 teaspoons vegetable oil
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into pieces
1 tablespoon garlic, minced
1 leek (white part only), halved lengthwise, sliced thin, and rinsed well
½ pound assorted mushrooms such as creminis, shitakes, chanterelles, and portobellos, cleaned and chopped
½ cup Cognac or brandy
1 cup tomatoes, peeled, seeded, and chopped
½ cup seafood stock or water
¼ cup demi-glace (available at gourmet markets)
½ teaspoon kosher salt
¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon fresh thyme, chopped
Andouille Cracked-Corn Grits (see recipe)
Sliced green onions (green part only)
In a large bowl toss shrimp with 3 teaspoons Creole seasoning.
In a large skillet heat 2 teaspoons oil over medium high heat. Add half of the shrimp and sear about 40 seconds until half-cooked. Repeat with the remaining 2 teaspoons of oil and shrimp and transfer to a large plate.
Return skillet to high heat and add 2 tablespoons butter and garlic and sauté, stirring and scraping the bottom of the skillet, until garlic is fragrant, for 30 seconds. Add the leek, reduce the heat to medium, and cook, stirring, about 1 ½ minutes until the leeks are soft and golden brown. Add the mushrooms and cook for about 2 minutes until soft and they give off their liquid.
Remove the skillet from heat. Add Cognac, being careful of flare-ups, and cook about 1½ minutes. Add the tomatoes, stock, demi-glace, salt, and pepper and bring to a simmer over medium heat. Cook about 2 minutes until slightly reduced. Add the shrimp and thyme to skillet and cook about 1 minute, stirring until shrimp are warmed through. Remove skillet the from the heat and stir the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter into the sauce, several pieces at a time, and remaining teaspoon Creole seasoning. Taste for seasoning. Serve over Andouille Cracked-Corn Grits and garnish with green onions.
Leeks are grown in dirt and are full of the stuff by the time they get to your kitchen. The best way to clean them is to slice them first, then soak them in a big bowl of water. The dirt and sand sinks, and the leeks float and can be easily skimmed away.