Local fitness enthusiast Jason Murphy remakes favorite meals of his youth into healthy dishes. See the full list of his recipes at www.mysaline.com/shirtless.
Of all the meals I have adapted to fit my lifestyle once I gave processed foods and simple carbs the boot, Shrimp and Grits has to be one of my favorites.
Sure, it’s labor intensive, it feels like I use most of the pots and pans in my kitchen to make it, and I run around like the Swedish Chef on an episode of The Muppet Show as I keep it all going, but that just means the payoff is that much better when it comes out perfect and delicious. It’s a dish that makes me feel like I’m on vacation at the beach, and it’s one of those rare meals that feels right at home in both the summer and winter months.
Don’t let all that work scare you away from tackling this meal, just know that a little organization and planning will set you free, or in this case, keep you from a major kitchen fire. Not chugging too hard on the white wine needed for this dish (like Julia Child after a hard day filming on set) will also help keep everything safe. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.
I used to think Shrimp and Grits was one of those restaurant only meals, that it was far beyond my capabilities at home. Not only was I completely wrong on that point, but making this myself meant I wasn’t subjecting myself to questionable sewer water shrimp, oils, and instant grits stripped of any nutritional value it may have once had. While stone ground grits retains a bit of fiber and vitamins, 99.9% of any grits consumed will be instant grits where the corn kernels are soaked in lye, stripped of the outer hull where the fiber lives, processed, pre-cooked, and dehydrated, which also removes the germ, leaving nothing left but simple carbs waiting to raise your blood sugar levels. Here’s the nutritional profile for a cup of instant grits:
If you are familiar with my recipes at all, you can see what’s coming next. That’s right, our old friend cauliflower is coming to save the day. It’s willingness to mimic any flavor profile and texture while retaining a myriad of health benefits makes it the perfect substitute for grits. Here’s the stats for a cup of steamed cauliflower:
What really jumps off the page there is how much lower in carbs the cauliflower is, and how many more vitamins are present. There are too many health benefits to list here making this swap, but let’s just say if you would like less heart disease, diabetes, cancer, obesity, and autoimmune symptoms, etc… adding cauliflower as a regular part of your weekly diet will greatly reduce your chances of having to deal with those decidedly not pleasant conditions.
There’s a lot to this meal. You will probably burn as many calories making it and cleaning up afterward as you do consuming it, but hey, that’s a win-win in my book. So let’s roll up our sleeves and get into it. Trust me on this one, your efforts will be rewarded.
Shrimp and Grits Shirtless Chef Style
- One head organic cauliflower
- 1/4 cup grass fed heavy cream
- 2 Tbsp grass fed butter
- 4 ounces grass fed cheddar, shredded
- 1/2 tsp sea salt and fresh cracked pepper
- 1 tsp dried parsley
Shrimp and sauce ingredients:
- 1 lb wild caught shrimp
- 3 slices bacon
- 1 package Andouille chicken sausage
- 1 Tbsp avocado oil
- 1 bunch green onions
- 3 cloves garlic minced
- 1/4 cup diced jarred jalapeno
- 1 Tbsp white wine vinegar
- 1/2 cup dry white wine
- 1 cup grass fed heavy cream
- 1/4 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
- 1/4 tsp sea salt
- 1/2 tsp pepper
- 2 tsp cajun seafood seasoning
- 1/8 to 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes – depending on the spice level you prefer
Timing is everything on this one. Prepare your veggies first. Wash and cut the cauliflower into small florets and place in your steamer of choice. I use an Instant Pot pressure cooker, and boy does it make life easy:
If you are lucky enough to have one, fill it with a cup of water, set it on steam for 10 minutes, and forget it. Even when the timer goes off, just leave it alone, the pot will keep it warm and ready once the rest of the meal is ready:
Chop the green onions, separating the green stalks and the white roots:
Then fine chop both:
Dice the garlic cloves and chop the jalapenos:
Slice your chicken sausage and place in a bowl:
Place three strips of bacon on a microwave safe plate lined with paper towels and cook until crisp, usually 3-4 minutes, flipping every 2 minutes:
Shred the 4 ounces of cheddar and 1/4 cup of Parmesan:
Heat the avocado oil in a large skillet and brown the sausage:
Transfer the sausage to a heavy duty bowl and cover with foil to keep warm. Now it’s time to defrost the shrimp. Place 1 lb of frozen shelled and deveined shrimp in a large colander and run cold water over it for 5 minutes to defrost, stirring with your hand constantly:
If you buy or have fresh gulf shrimp with the shells on, defrost the same way with cold, running water for 5 minutes: use a pair of kitchen shears to cut the back of the shell to remove and devein:
Then use a pair of kitchen shears to cut the back of the shell to remove and devein:
Using the same skillet, heat 1 Tbsp of butter until it melts, then add the defrosted shrimp and the cajun seasoning, cooking until both sides are browned, about 3 minutes per side:
Once the shrimp is cooked, add it to the bowl with the sausage and cover again with the foil:
Add the white root part of the green onions to the pan, stirring frequently until they are slightly browned, then add the garlic and stir constantly for one more minute.
Add the vinegar to the pan and stir, then add the white wine and deglaze the pan, scraping up all the delicious browned bits on the bottom of the pan. Bring to a boil and simmer until the wine is reduced to a syrup:
Once the wine is reduced and thick, add the cup of heavy cream, salt and pepper, chopped jalapenos, and red pepper flakes. The red pepper flakes will bring the heat, so omit it if you do not like spicy dishes. If you like full octane hotness, pile it in there and light the world on fire:
Once the cream is heated and starts to thicken, add the 1/4 cup of Parmesan cheese and stir until melted. Add the crumbled bacon to the sauce and remove from heat.
Remove the steamed cauliflower basket from the Instant pot, drain the main pot, then dump the cauliflower back in the big main pot with the 1/4 cup grass fed heavy cream, 2 Tbsp grass fed butter, 4 ounces grass fed shredded cheddar, 1/2 tsp sea salt, 1/2 tsp fresh cracked pepper, and 1 tsp dried parsley:
Break out your immersion blender and hit it on high until it’s smooth and creamy. If you don’t have an immersion blender stick, a hand held mixer will also do the trick:
Place a serving of the cauliflower “grits” on a plate, top with a heaping spoonful of the the shrimp and sausage, garish the top with the green part of the green onion, and serve with a side of roasted broccoli or veggie of your choice:
See the list of all the Shirtless Chef recipes at www.mysaline.com/shirtless.