It’s Fat Tuesday, so that means it’s time for some good ole “stick to your ribs” kind of food and I can promise you this delicious Shrimp & Grits recipe from Merchants Restaurant in downtown Nashville will do just that!! For my most recent “The Breakdown” in Nashville Lifestyles Magazine, I met with Chef Jason Brumm of Merchants and he shared with me a recipe that he has been loyal to for many years.
I absolutely love writing this article series for the Magazine, because it affords me the opportunity to meet with such dynamic and talented chefs. I have been a fan of Chef Jason’s work for many years going back to his Radius 10 days. What I enjoyed the most about meeting with Chef Jason was that we could relate on a family level. He has two small children one being the same age as our Hunter Bear, so we had lots to talk about in the toddler department. He is a big proponent of getting his son involved in the kitchen and has a strong belief that if they are invested in the food that they are eating that it will make for a lot more success at the dinner table. Even though he is crazy busy as Executive Chef at Merchants, he always makes time to cook for his family. We spend so much time around the table at home either working on homework, eating a meal or with the girls having wine. Chef Jason says that he likes to call his family time at the table “table time” because they do so much more than just eat at the table and he really values the time they are all together.
We also share a love for 30A, where he spent many years as chef at Cafe Thirty-A and still vacations every year. 30A is definitely our destination of choice for vacation and while the restaurants are UNBELIEVABLE!!!!, as with Chef Jason, I love to cook a lot of our meals using all the fantastic fresh ingredients available. It was at Cafe Thirty-A, though, that that this amazing recipe was born and he has continued to use it ever since. While lots of food can be manipulated and substituted with leaner ingredients, according to Chef Jason this isn’t one of them, so get out your fat pants and indulge in this DELICIOUS dish!!!
- Merchants Shrimp & Grits
- (Adapted slightly from Chef Jason’s recipe)
- For the Grits:
- 2 cups quick grits
- 8 cups water
- ¾ teaspoon salt
- 2 tablespoons butter
- ½ cup Mascarpone Cheese
- For the Ragout:
- 1 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil
- ½ pound Andouille sausage from Porter Road Butcher (raw)
- 1 pound fresh raw shrimp (approximately 4-5 large shrimp per person)
- 1 large shallot, chopped
- 3 garlic cloves, minced
- ½ cup dry white wine
- ½ pound peeled whole tomatoes (canned or fresh)
- 2 tablespoons highly reduced chicken stock (can be found at Whole Foods)
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice
- 1 teaspoon lemon zest
- 1 tablespoon each fresh thyme and basil
- Cook grits in water with salt according to package directions. Once cooked, add Mascarpone, and butter and stir to combine until fully melted and grits are creamy. Set aside to allow grits to set up before serving.
- Heat olive oil in pan over medium heat. Once hot, add sausage and allow fat to render in pan about 3-4 minutes. Add raw shrimp, shallot and garlic. Cook 30-40 seconds. Deglaze pan with white wine. Add tomatoes and gently crush tomatoes while cooking. Add reduced chicken stock and let reduce about 3-4 minutes. Finish sauce with lemon juice, lemon zest, basil and thyme. Ladle ragout over grits and serve.
Chef Jason also likes to add vegetables such as asparagus, greens, fresh corn, scallions, etc when available and in season.
Since cast iron shouldn’t be washed with soap, Chef Jason likes to burn off the grease and residue after rinsing them out.
The sauce for the shrimp and grits is more or less a ratatouille that can be changed up by adding other seasonal vegetables.
Chef Jason uses Hawaiian Blue Prawns, whose name comes from the brilliant blue of its tail and are sweet and succulent.