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Shrimp and Cheese Grits with Red-Eye Gravy



Red-Eye Gravy: – 1/4 cup bacon fat or vegetable oil – 1 1/2 pounds ham, diced small – 4 cups diced onions – 6 cups shrimp, clam or chicken stock – 4 cups brewed coffee – 2 cups juice from canned tomatoes – 3/4 cup chopped canned tomatoes – 3/4 cup Real California heavy cream – 1/2 cup coffee liqueur – 1 bunch fresh thyme, tied with string – Salt and black pepper California Cheese Grits: – 2/3 cup olive oil – 2 1/2 cups minced yellow onions – 2 tablespoons minced garlic – 15 cups Real California milk – 15 cups water – 5 cups yellow grits or polenta – 5 ounces Real California butter – Salt and black pepper – 15 ounces Real California Jack cheese, grated – 5 ounces Real California Cheddar cheese, grated – 72 head-on spot prawns – 3 cups micro arugula sprouts
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To make red-eye gravy, heat fat or oil in a cast-iron skillet over high heat until wisps of smoke begin to rise. Add ham; sauté, stirring occasionally, until slightly caramelized. Reduce heat to medium and add onions. Cook until translucent. Add remaining ingredients except salt and pepper; bring to a boil, stirring with a wooden spoon to scrape browned bits from bottom of skillet. Reduce heat to low; simmer until reduced by half. Season with salt and pepper; remove thyme. (Yield: 6 cups)

To make California cheese grits, heat oil in a large pot over low heat. Add onions and garlic; cook until translucent. Add milk and water; bring to a boil. Whisk in grits until smooth; transfer to a double boiler. Cook, stirring frequently, about 20 minutes or until grits are soft and no longer gritty. Remove from heat, whisk in butter and season with salt and pepper. Fold in cheeses. Keep warm for service.

For each serving, to order, in a sauté pan over medium heat, bring 3 prawns and 1/4 cup red-eye gravy to a simmer. Simmer for 1 minute, turn prawns over and simmer 1 minute more or until prawns are cooked. Spoon 3/4 cup warm grits into a bowl and arrange prawns on top. Spoon red-eye gravy over prawns and garnish with 2 tablespoons arugula sprouts.

Recipe courtesy of Chef Brandon Gunther, Rocker Oysterfeller's (Valley Ford, CA)

Per Order:

Yield: 24 servings