The first time I heard my college friend Kim bragging about her mom’s secret shrimp and grits combination for breakfast, I was skeptical. But for dinner—that’s a different question. This week we ate shrimp and grits for dinner and my son loved it. There is no master recipe for a “creole spice mix.” Everyone has their own spin on it, so rather than be bound by the “academy” you should improvise based on what is in your pantry! You basically need:
- Herbs (dried herbs like herbes de Provence, cumin, thyme, oregano);
- Color (paprika—smoked, sweet or spicy or if you want it yellow—turmeric, saffron);
- Flavor enhancer (onion, garlic or both); and
- Texture (bell peppers, celery etc.)
I happen to have za’atar (herb mix from Palestine, based on thyme), smoked paprika, garlic, shallots and red bell peppers. Sauté the veggies in oil, add the shrimp and the dried herbs/spices. When shrimp is nearly done (don’t over cook it; you just want it that nice bright orange color), add cream or broth (of course I used cream) and a pat of butter. Add salt or other seasoning to taste. Cook grits separately and season with grated cheese and salt (I had cheddar). Serve immediately.