June 24, 2024


Simply The Best Food

Watch 4 Levels | 4 Levels of Shrimp & Grits: Amateur to Food Scientist | Epicurious Video | CNE | Epicurious.com

13 min read

[cracking and pouring] [sizzling]

[upbeat drumbeat]

Hi, I’m Shariff, and I’m a Level 1 chef.

I’m Lorenzo, and I’m a Level 2 chef.

Hi, my name is Jameaale.

Everyone knows me as Jamie

and I’ve been a professional chef for 15 years.

[upbeat drumbeat]

This is my go-to brunch dish.

I’m kinda known for my shrimp and grits.

I don’t wanna brag

but I’m just telling you what the people are saying.

I’m gonna make Thai jumbo shrimp with grits.

It’s really, really fast.

You can really get this done in 20 minutes.

Today what we’re gonna make is shrimp

with a vegetable ragu and polenta grits.

[upbeat music]

Now we are gonna get started on my grits.

I’m gonna grate the cheese first.

The first thing I’ve gotta do is heat

up some chicken broth.

In a medium saucepan, we’re gonna put our veg stock

and while we wait for that to come up to temperature,

I’m gonna start cutting some of these larger

green stalks off the leaks.

I’ll start prepping the rosemary and thyme.

Now the parm, I like to do two different cheeses.

I only need a cup of cheese and if I don’t have enough,

I will add some more.

There we go.

First I’m gonna add just a little butter.

I know people do this in a weird order

but you actually should put your salt

into the liquid already.

So let it dissolve.

Mix in.

Once you add the grits to the pan

you gotta stir and keep your eye on them.

We’re gonna add a little bit

of the herbs that we chopped up.

The leak is actually flimsy.

So I’m gonna pull it out,

so I don’t want it to break all the way down.

I grew up on grits.

I’ve been eating grits since I was a kid here in New York.

I’m like, You guys have grits? You serve grits?

No, no, no.

What’s grits?

Now I can add in my tabs of butter.

I’m gonna put three in now.

I’m gonna add my secret ingredient.

[evil laughing]

This is coconut milk.

If you see that your polenta is cooking and drying out,

add water and I’ll add half a cup

at a time as I cook down.

So I’m gonna add a little olive oil

and I just wanna keep a little fat content in there.

All right, so we are just about done

with our grits and this is the perfect consistency.

So now we can go ahead and add in our cheese.

Fold it in, it’ll start melting.

Now we’re talkin’.

Into the pan we go.

You wanna scrape out everything from your pot

and there you are.

Stick it in the fridge and we’ll let it chill

there for about four hours.

And now I’m gonna add some Parmesan cheese.

Nice and creamy and cheesy.

Here’s our chilled polenta.

We’re gonna just turn this out, there you go.

Just push those straight down.

Give it a little turn, pull it up.

Here you have your polenta cake.

The butter is melted.

I can smell the lovely coconut milk in there.

I could cover it if I wanted to, I probably will.

We’re gonna crack and whisk two eggs together

for about four to six polenta rounds.

Just add a pinch of salt to that.

Fully whisk your egg ’till it’s a pale yellow.

Sit it down.

And I’m gonna sprinkle a little flour on top of that.

That should just give it a little crisp coating.

I’m just gonna add maybe another little piece

of butter and a little pepper.

We’re gonna put a little oil

in that pan and sear ’em on each side.

We’re gonna give it a minute

per side at a medium-high heat.

Here’s our sexy polenta.

Okay, now that my grits are finished, I’m gonna move

on to preparing my ingredients for the shrimp.

So now I’m gonna prep the ingredients

and we’re gonna cook our veg ragu.

First, you’re gonna prep our herbs.

So we have parsley.

Here’s our thyme.

And we’re gonna add the rosemary to that.

Next, I’m gonna do a garlic corn.

I take about four cloves, large cloves of garlic.

I’m just either gonna chop or just maybe dice a little bit.

We’re gonna cut through the onion.


And then just cut down.

I always tear up when I’m choppin’ onions, so annoying.

Okay, now we got our jalapeno here.

So this is to add some kick to your shrimp.

Now for our celery.

Here is my green pepper,

and then just use your fingers and kind of just scoop

out the middle part and you break it out.

Now for the garlic.

So I chose the andouille sausage because it’s my favorite

and it’s what I’m familiar with most.

And again, don’t get discouraged

by the amount of ingredients that you have to use.

Get some olive oil in there.

Here we go.

Our herbs.

This is going to be the next step.

Yes, corn.

Hopefully whenever you do this, you drain this corn.

Now I’m gonna cut these slices thin,

so we’re gonna do nice little thin slices

and let that just work in there.

I can see that the corn is, kind of a, let’s say

shriveling slightly, which means the water

coming out from the corn is being released.

This we’re just gonna cut up into cubes.

So I just cut it in half first, then cut ’em in strips.

And then we’re just gonna dice like that.

And the squash will release a little bit of water

but it’s not gonna be too much.

A little bit of salt and then this again,

it’s usually a fourth of a teaspoon of pepper.

I’d say you stir this for maybe 10 minutes, eight minutes.

I like the flavor of oyster mushroom.

It’s a milder flavored mushroom.

And I also like that it kind of looks like when you chop

it up, it kinda looks like clams almost.

Plus it’s oyster, it’s all in with the theme of fish.

If you can see now, the furthest my garlic has gone,

is a light, little golden color.

We also are gonna add to this, Castlevetrano olives.

A perfume almost, it tastes amazing.

I think I am going to go ahead and add my sausage now.

In the meantime, hello, parsley.

Then I’ll do a little roll.

Typically I’ll end up maybe with a tablespoon,

two tablespoons.

It’s all sweating down nice and slow.

Now what we’re gonna do, we’re going to add

an aged bourbon barrel fish sauce by Red Boat.

That’s gonna be like the element that takes

this ragu to the next level.

And at this point, I’m gonna do the chili flake,

just so I can see what I’m putting in because once

the tomato goes in, I won’t see it.

And then we’re gonna go in with crushed tomato.

And I just wanna put enough, just to kind of make it wet

and a little saucy.

I don’t want it drowning.

Trying to keep it hardy looking, but really flavorful.

So this is nice.

It’s exactly where I want it to be.

I will now add, I always have to add a little bit more salt

and I’m gonna add my parsley.

You can see it starting to brown now.

Look at that, that looks yummy.

Hey guys, turn you off.

We’ve got delicious garlic corn, ready to go.

And this is my veg ragu.

Okay, so now that this is done cooking,

we’re gonna set it aside and get started on our shrimp.

Next we’re gonna make the shrimp,

but first, we have to make the marinade for the shrimp.

I’m gonna pour my veggie oil

and my sesame oil into the bowl.

I want my chilies in there already.

It’s just as simple as chopping it, seeds and all guys.

Okay, so now I’m about to season my shrimp

and get it all ready to add to the pan.

So I’m just gonna mix in my seasonings here.

I have my smoked paprika, my onion powder, dried thyme,

garlic powder, black pepper.

Last but not least, the Creole seasoning.

Now we’re gonna cook our shrimp.

These shrimp right here are U/10 to U/12.

That’s the size of the shrimp.

Just to get an idea of what that means,

it’s about the size of the palm of my hand.

We’re gonna season those with a little bit

of lemon pepper and a little bit of salt.

We have soy sauce, brown sugar.

The sriracha is gonna add a little bite to it too.

Yummy, yummy.

Ketchup, it actually balances out the heat

and it also make for a nice basting.

So now I’m going to season my shrimp

and now I’m just gonna rub the seasoning

in so we can get it on both sides.

I am gonna move on to my garlic.

I am gonna use all of this garlic.

Now we’re just gonna rough chop.

No need for anything special.

The last thing I need to do,

is take two limes.

These are a really nice size limes.

I’m doing the poor man’s juicer

or maybe a wise man’s juicer.


I’m just holding the lime

as I’m squeezing the juices out of it.

This is jumbo shrimp.

So let’s just salt and pepper both sides,

pretty easy and pepper.

All right, now that we have all this, we’re gonna say,

Swimming time.

Goodbye, goodbye, goodbye.

What we want to do is let this shrimp

marinade about seven minutes.

The acid from my lime is gonna cook it.


So now that I have my shrimp all seasoned,

I’m gonna add them to the pan.

I’m gonna put a little oil on my grill pan

and I’m just gonna brush

that so it’s distributed evenly.

Keeping them apart, so they’re socially distanced.

So now I have my shrimp

in and I’m just gonna stir them in.

If you look with the camera, you can see that the corn

just start curling.

That means it’s actually kind of cooking

in the acid already.

It’s time to go folks.

So let’s just add a little bit of veggie oil.

Let’s paint some of this on.

I’m gonna go out to you first.

That sizzle is just so inviting.

So one side is cooked.

We’re gonna turn those over.

Keep them apart.

This is looking good.

We don’t like our shrimp to be overcooked.

So now I’m going to add a little water

to make a little juice, a little gravy

from all of this fabulous seasonin’.

I’m gonna check my first guy and hello, flamingo pink.

I can smell it.

Oh, that smoke is going right into my eye

and you can really feel the heat of that chilies.

So, you know it’s done because it’s pinkish orange

on each side, the tail is the same color.

There’s no black.

You see it’s half the size of what it was before.

It’s shrunken and curled ups.

Smells delicious.

And we are pretty much done.

And guess what?

I’m not gonna overcook it.

That is it you guys.


There you have it, these are my shrimp.

All right, now we are done cooking

and we’re gonna put it all together

and get it on a plate. It’s time to plate our dish.

But first, I’m gonna do a little garnish

with the leek stalks that we had, the green part

of the leaks that we had left over.

We’ll put the leaks in this pan

saute them off just a little bit.

Before I started plating, I need to just do one last

prep with my grits.

That’s where I like to add my very last tab of butter.

Look at that melt instantly into this beautiful,

beautiful coconut infused grits.

I’m not gonna use all of this because it’s definitely,

I only use about a cup of cheese.

Just fold it into your grits.

So when I’m preparing my shrimp and grits,

I like to put all of the shrimp and the ingredients

on top of the grits.

You can’t touch my grits.

You can’t touch my grits.

Let’s take these green leaves of the leak outta here.

Let some of that oil drip off of ’em.

First, we’re gonna put one of these sexy

polenta cakes at the bottom.

Treat grits like it’s mashed potatoes.

So I like to make a little hill as if I was gonna do gravy.

I actually put a little corn,

as if it’s a gravy in there first.

Okay, let’s just do that.

I’m gonna actually move all of my ragu

to one side of the pan and I’m gonna pull

just enough the size of the spoon,

towards the edge of my pan.

And we’re just gonna plate that right along the top.

Kind of like what we call in the food world, a canal.

Now, for our shrimp.

One, two, three.

I’m actually gonna hook you.

Marry the two tails, just like that.

And you’re gonna place them right on top.

Then we’re gonna take a few of the leaks that we fried.

Just kind of let them just land where they land.

And it looks like something from the ocean, right?

I like to rain on top of my plate here.

And we’re gonna top that off, just with a few pieces

of our Parmesan, there we go.

Here is my shrimp and grits.

Hi, grilled jumbo shrimp, served with grits and corn.

This is my shrimp and polenta grits.

Okay, now we have our shrimp and grits plated.

And now, here is the moment of truth.

Hmm. Hmm.


That’s really good.

I feel like I was just teleported to South Carolina.


Okay, I think I will definitely use half

of a jalapeno next time, instead of the whole thing,

’cause this is, it’s good, but it’s cooking.

It’s spicy.

It all works together.

It’s nice.

Every one of these flavors are patting themselves

on the back and just working together nicely.

I love it.

Underneath the shrimp, you have all this umami

and amazing flavor with the Castlevetrano olives

and that fish sauce kind of just jumps

out right when it needs to, but that cheese does it all.

Like everything comes together with the corn and the cheese.

And then the little bit of the leaks as the decor,

that really actually gives it a great flavor.

Shrimp and grits is a quintessential Southern dish

but it’s also adaptable to various flavor combinations.

Let’s see how each of our three chefs made theirs.

[dramatic music]

Grits are made from the endosperm,

the starchy white part of mature white corn.

Shariff used traditional Southern grits that he boiled

in water with a small amount of olive oil and butter.

Lorenzo used instant grits, which are commercially

made to shorten the cooking time and avoid any clumping.

Instant grits.

I have no idea.

Rose, Rose.

They’re pregelatinized, so partially cooked

and then drum dried so that they have tiny pores

that are very quickly re-hydrated in hot water.

He cooked his instant grits in chicken broth

for a savory quality.

Jameeale made polenta cakes.

Polenta and grits are both made from corn.

However, polenta is typically more coarsely ground

and golden from yellow corn that’s full of carotenoids,

which give it the beautiful golden color

and grits are more finely ground and white.

[dramatic music]

Shariff used extra large shrimp.

Shrimp are usually sold according

to the number of shrimp per pound.

So, the larger the shrimp, the lower the number

as in 21 to 30 shrimp per pound, versus 10 to 15 per pound.

The shrimp was already peeled and de-veined.

The dark line that runs along the outside of the shrimp

lengthwise is the digestive tract of the shrimp.

You can leave it in, but it’s not very appetizing.

He sauteed his shrimp in a pan for about four minutes.

It doesn’t take long, since shrimp cook very quickly.

Lorenzo used jumbo shrimp, which are larger than Shariff’s.

His shrimp was also peeled and de-veined.

In addition to not being very sightly,

sometimes this digestive tract can add a mushy

or gritty texture to the shrimp.

That’s best to avoid.

He grilled his shrimp on high heat.

This adds some dark roasted color from Maillard browning

and crisps his shrimp as the sugars in his marinade

caramelize and the surface dehydrates during grilling.

Shrimp prepared this way are delicious, but slightly less

tender than shrimp that are steamed or boiled.

Jameeale also grilled her shrimp and added them last

to her elevated level three vegetable ragu.

Jameeale was careful to thinly slice her garlic

lengthwise, or pole to pole.

I learned this from my adopted Italian grandmother.

I do not cut my garlic the short way.

I cut it the long way, actually,

so that it releases the sweetness

of the garlic and not the bitterness.

When you just crush and smash garlic,

it releases the bitterness in the garlic.

The way you cut your aromatics like garlic

and onions, can impact flavor.

Inside of the cells of garlic is a thiolsulfate molecule

called Alliin.

It’s unremarkable while intact, however, once the garlic

is crushed, sliced or chopped, an enzyme held

between the cells called Alliinase, reacts instantaneously

with the Alliin to form Allicin, which breaks down further

into various garlic flavor compounds.

The more chopping, the more exposed reactants,

hence, more reactions to bruise the flavor molecules

and increase garlic flavor.

By slicing the garlic from pole to pole, or length-wise,

some studies have shown that fewer cells are damaged,

limiting the reaction that forms the flavoring molecules.

However, in this case, because there’s so many strong

flavors, it’s not likely that you’ll notice

the subtlety of the garlic much.

Garlic is also high in fructose,

a simple sugar that caramelizes wonderfully

no matter how you slice it.

Shrimp and grits are so versatile.

You can make the grits your sauce,

or fry them as a cake and add a thick and hardy ragu.

In any case, we hope you’ll try some of these tips

from our three amazing chefs.

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