Blackened Shrimp Over Cheese Grits with Bacon Marmalade
1 pound bacon, diced in ½-inch x ½-inch cubes
1 large white onion, small dice
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
1 Tbsp. Dijon mustard
¼ tsp.fresh cracked pepper
2 cups whole milk
2 cups water
1 1/2 tsp. kosher salt
1 cup coarse ground cornmeal
1/2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
4 Tbsp. unsalted butter
4 oz. sharp cheddar, shredded
1 cup blackening seasoning (store-bought or see recipe below)
1 Tbsp. Kosher salt
2 pounds 21/25 shrimp, shelled and deveined
8 Tbsp. (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted in a shallow bowl
Cilantro leaves or micro celery for garnish
1 Tbsp. paprika
1 tsp. onion powder
1 tsp. garlic powder
1 tsp. Kosher salt
1 tsp. dried oregano
1 tsp. dried thyme
1 tsp. cayenne pepper, or to taste
½ tsp. freshly ground black pepper
First, make the bacon marmalade: Place the diced bacon in a large sauté pan turned to medium-high heat. Cook the bacon until it is crispy and perfectly browned. Turn off the heat and, using a slotted spoon, remove the bacon from the pan and reserve. Drain some of the bacon fat from the pan leaving ¼ cup of bacon fat in the pan. Place the pan with the bacon fat back on the stove top and turn the heat to medium-low. Add the diced onion, cook until the diced onion is soft and caramelized, then add the brown sugar. Cook until the brown sugar has dissolved and when the brown sugar begins to boil, add the apple cider vinegar and mustard. Cook this mixture until it has reduced and thickened to a “jam” consistency. Season with black pepper and add the crispy bacon back to the sauté pan. Stir together and then remove from the heat. Let cool, transfer to an air tight container and refrigerate until ready to use.
Second, make the cheese grits: Place the milk, water, and salt into a large, heavy-bottomed pot over medium-high heat and bring to a boil. Once the milk mixture comes to a boil, gradually add the cornmeal while continually whisking. Once all of the cornmeal has been incorporated, decrease the heat to low and cover. Remove lid and whisk frequently to prevent grits from sticking or forming lumps making sure to get into corners of pot when whisking. Cook for 20 to 25 minutes or until mixture is creamy.
While cooking the grits, prepare the shrimp: Preheat a cast-iron skillet over high heat. Meanwhile, combine the blackening seasoning and the salt in a shallow bowl and set aside. Dip the shrimp in the melted butter shaking off any excess butter before dredging the shrimp in the blackening seasoning. Place a batch of shrimp on the hot skillet and cook each side for about 1 minute or just until the shrimp turns opaque. Remove the shrimp from the pan and keep warm until all the shrimp are cooked.
Finish the grits by removing from the heat, adding the black pepper and butter and whisk to combine. Once the butter is melted, gradually whisk in the cheese a little at a time.
To serve: Place the hot grits in the bottom of four entrée bowls. Divide the bacon marmalade in four equal portions and place on top of the hot grits. Divide the hot blackened shrimp in four equal portions and place on top of the bacon marmalade. Garnish with cilantro leaves or micro-celery and serve immediately.
Makes 4 servings.
Recipe by Michael B., Flik Independent School Dining Sous Chef