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Red Cup Tailgates: BBQ Shrimp and Grit Bites

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Before my entire day was ruined by Ole Miss losing to Memphis on Saturday, I planned to attend an LSU-Florida watch party at a friend's house on Saturday night. He was serving jambalaya, so I felt like my finger food should be New Orleans-y as well. I didn't ultimately end up going to the party, choosing to drown my sorrows instead. I did, however, make these shrimp and grits bites. The wife and I ate them all, and I'm sure she'll demand that I make them many more times. Overall, they were spectacular.

Before we get into how to actually make them, let's talk about the concept of barbeque shrimp. When someone first mentioned the dish to me many years ago, I though of shrimp with barbeque sauce on them. At the time, I probably would have liked that. Now, not so much. Luckily, that's not at all what this is. New Orleans style barbeque shrimp is a dish that was apparently invented at Pascal's Manale Restaurant located on Napoleon Avenue in New Orleans. I've never eaten there, but I'm sure it's wonderful. I'm not sure why they're called barbeque shrimp, since they don't really have barbeque seasoning on them, but they're delicious nonetheless.

But first, the grit cakes

So... you're going to want to make some grits. I hope you know how to do that. Chicken stock + corn meal = grits. I'm not going to give you directions, but be sure that you don't add just an absurd amount of chicken stock. You want the grits to sort of congeal when cooled. I know that doesn't sound tasty, but you'll see.

Add cheese. Twice this amount. I used sharp cheddar, but that's mostly because my wife bought a huge bag of it, randomly.

Cheese Grits

Mmm.... cheese grits. Once you've allowed the cheese to melt and incorporate into the dish, put it in a casserole dish. If you're smart, you'll line the casserole dish with saran wrap. This makes removal of you grit block easier later. Refrigerate. Two hours later, pull the casserole dish out, and flip it onto a cutting board. Use a cup to cut out rounds of grits, like so.

Grit rounds

See? Isn't that nifty? Now do that a bunch more times and then put the grit cakes on an oiled baking sheet. Throw that in the oven at 425 for 40 minutes, flipping halfway. Then, your grit cakes should look like this.

Grit Cakes Sheet

The outside should now be crispy with the inside still moist and gooey.

Now for the shrimp

Ideally, you'd start preparing the shrimp about 15 minutes before the grit cakes are finished.

Here's what you'll need:

4 garlic cloves, diced or minced

Small amount of olive oil

1 pound shrimp, deveined and peeled

Some bourbon

3/4 a stick of butter

A few tablespoons of worcestershire sauce

A few dashes of wine vinegar (I used white)

Hot sauce of your choosing

Creole seasoning

Black pepper

Salt, if you like things really, really salty

Juice of 1 lemon

Here's how to make the shrimp:

Heat some olive oil in a pan. Cook the garlic for a couple of minutes on medium. Add the shrimp, and let them cook for a minute or so on each side. I know, it seems a little weird to add shrimp at this point, since they don't have to cook long. Don't worry. They're not going to be rubbery. Once you've cooked the shrimp for a minute on each side, increase the heat to high. Add Worcestershire, seasonings, hot sauce, lemon juice, and vinegar. Lastly, add the bourbon, and use it to deglaze the pan like any good alcohol will. Those bits at the bottom of the pan are wonderful. You want that flavor in your dish. Let this cook until it has reduced to about half the amount.

Shrimp

Add slices of butter one at a time, stirring to incorporate each one before moving to the next. Once the sauce is nice and thick, you're done. Serve those shrimp on top of the grit cakes. I added green onions for presentation, but that's really not necessary. Be sure to drizzle the sauce over your completed product. It will make a big difference.