Photos by Carli Wentworth
Every March I look forward to two things: warm days and crawfish. I know that probably wasn’t what you were expecting, however, nothing makes me happier than a giant crawfish boil, grits and a warm spring day. It just takes me back ...
I still remember the first time I had crawfish. I was in college and my sweet soon-to-be hubby took me to Louisiana for spring break. At a roadside gas station, we sat at a picnic table under a moss-covered tree and ate fresh boiled crawfish. At first glance, they looked like giant red bugs, but oh my goodness they were good. Next, we went a little further into Louisiana country only to be introduced to glorious grits. I instantly fell in love with the rich and creamy taste served for breakfast, lunch and dinner. I quickly figured out grits are so much more than a side dish. They are served in a multitude of ways – even as dessert.
Twenty years later, it takes me right back to that trip every time I make my “tribute to Louisiana” dish. It’s the perfect combination of creamy, bold grits along with a rich Cajun crawfish and shrimp sauce. The flavors are complex yet it’s so simple to make. This is Southern comfort food at its finest.
Cajun Crawfish and Shrimp Grits
1 stick unsalted butter
1 t kosher salt
1 c regular (not quick cook) grits
4 c chicken stock
½ c Parmesan Reggiano, grated
¾ c half and half
2 T olive oil
5 slices applewood smoked bacon, cut in thin slices
1 onion, chopped
1 t garlic, minced
1 c green and red pepper, chopped
½ c leek, chopped in half and sliced
2 t Cajun seasoning
¾ c flour
2 c heavy whipping cream
¼ c dry sherry
1 lb crawfish tails
½ lb large shrimp, deveined and peeled with tails on
In a medium-sized stockpot melt the butter over medium heat. Slowly add in the chicken stock, salt and grits. Bring the grits to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer about 15-25 minutes, stirring frequently, until thickened. Remove from the heat and add in the half and half and Parmesan cheese. Set aside.
Heat olive oil and bacon slices over medium heat. Add in the onion, peppers, garlic and leeks. Sauté until vegetables are tender and then sprinkle with Cajun seasoning. Sprinkle the veggies with flour and cook for about 2 minutes to make a roux. Slowly pour in the whipping cream while using a whisk to combine. Continue until the sauce has thickened with no lumps. Add in the sherry to finish sauce. Finally, add in the crawfish and shrimp and cook for 5-6 minutes until cooked through. Serve the sauce over the grits and enjoy!