Looking for a Shrimp Extravaganza? Come out to the coast and eat your way through Georgia’s Golden Isles-starting with The 2015 Jekyll Island Shrimp & Grits Festival! The Golden Isles are nestled on the Georgia coast, making a breathtaking view of the four barrier islands of St. Simons Island, Sea Island, Little St. Simons Island, and Jekyll Island. Running from Friday, September 18th through Sunday, September 20th, this 3-day festival marks the 10th anniversary of Jekyll Island Shrimp & Grits Festival! To celebrate this milestone, they are gearing up for a weekend jammed packed with both amateur and professional cooking competitions, cooking demonstrations, and lots and lots of Wild Caught Georgia Shrimp! There will also be live entertainment, goodies for sale, and tons of family fun to be had by all. But in my opinion the highlight of the festival is being able to eat your weight in sweet Georgia shrimp. You’ll also, be able to sample all of the creative and delicious ways people cook shrimp & grits. I’ve seen it deep fried, stewed, pickled, barbequed, stuffed . . . well, you get the idea! In the meantime, you can whet your appetite with my take on Shrimp & Grits. Enjoy!
Shrimp & Grits | Courtesy of The Jekyll Island Authority
Shrimp & Grits with Tomato Okra Gravy
Yields 4 servings
Recipe by Chef Jennifer Hill Booker
1 cup white or yellow stone-ground grits
¾ cup grated cheddar
¼ cup parmesan
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
4 slices thick cut bacon, chopped
1 pound medium wild Georgia shrimp (about 30), peeled and deveined
1 small onion, chopped
1 garlic clove, minced
1 tablespoon flour
½ cup chicken stock or vegetable stock
2 medium garden fresh tomatoes, cored and diced
½ pound tender young okra, cut into ½ inch pieces
Sea salt, to taste
Fresh cracked black pepper
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 pinch cayenne pepper
4 scallions, thinly sliced
In a 2-qt. saucepan, bring 4 cups water to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat to low and whisk in grits. Cover and cook until grits are tender and creamy, about 30–40 minutes, whisking frequently. Add additional water if grits are too thick.
Whisk in cheddar, parmesan, and 1 tablespoon butter and season with salt; cover and set aside on low heat
In a medium sized skillet heat vegetable oil over low heat. Add bacon and cook, stirring occasionally, until crisp, about 10 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer bacon to a paper towel–lined plate; set aside. Reserve cooking fat in skillet.
Season shrimp with salt and pepper. Over medium-high heat, add shrimp to skillet with reserved bacon fat and cook, turning once, until bright pink, about 2 minutes. Transfer shrimp to a plate with a slotted spoon.
Lower heat and add onion to skillet and cook until soft but not browned, about 5 minutes. Add garlic and cook until golden, 1 minute more.
Add flour, and stir with a wooden spoon until well incorporated, while scraping the bottom of skillet, about 5 minutes.
Raise heat to high, add chicken stock. Whisk until smooth, simmering until thick and smooth.
Add tomatoes and okra to onion flour mixture, decrease heat to medium, and bring to a simmer, stirring frequently.
Cook until okra softens and tomatoes begin to break down, making a thick gravy. Add salt, black pepper and cayenne pepper, and continue to simmer until okra has cooked through, about 15 minutes. Add more stock if gravy gets too thick.
Return shrimp to skillet along with the lemon juice, remaining butter, and cook, stirring frequently, until sauce eats through, about 1 minute.
Divide grits between 4 bowls; top each with shrimp and tomato okra gravy.
Garnish each bowl with bacon and scallions.
Jennifer is Georgia’s official Culinary Explorer and the author of “Your Resident Gourmet,” full of innovative recipes, cooking trends and fun kitchen gadgets. Click here for more content from Jennifer.