Something about the word “detox” makes me want to slide head-first into a big plate of shrimp and grits. Specifically Barbecued Shrimp and Cheese Grits.

They’ve been on my mind.

I found this recipe a few months ago, before the holidays and our round of Bubonic Plague. Back then, I printed it off and stuck it right in the middle of my planner. A message to my Future Self to MAKE THIS! So, when I was finally well enough to care about what was in my planner, I opened it up and there was my seafood centerfold.

Beckoning.

This recipe starts with a homemade barbecue sauce. It’s a tangy ketchup-and-bourbon-based blend that you just toss in a pot and simmer for about 40 minutes. Nothing to it. Then you brush the sauce onto your shrimp just before you grill them. Since shrimp take less than five minutes on the grill, I usually cook them indoors in a grill pan – one of the handiest pans on the planet – but if you don’t have one (yet), feel free to pan-sear your shrimp over medium-high heat in a big skillet.

Delicious either way.

As for the grits, you boil them in garlic-infused chicken broth for extra savoriness. Then you get to engage in one of my Absolute Favorite Things To Do in the Kitchen: stirring the butter, cheese and cream into your pot of grits.

Luxurious.

Watching the pats of butter and handfuls of shredded cheese melt and disappear into the grits as they get richer and creamier is ridiculously satisfying.

Hedonism at its finest. THIS is the way to start a new year.

Barbecued Shrimp with Cheese Grits

From Amber Huffman via “Food & Wine”(April 2008)

Makes 6 servings

    Barbecue Sauce:

  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter*
  • 1 small onion, cut into 1/4-inch dice
  • 2 garlic cloves, very finely chopped
  • 1 1/4 cups ketchup*
  • 1/4 cup bourbon
  • 3 tablespoons cider vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons molasses
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 2 teaspoons Tabasco
  • 1 teaspoon chopped thyme
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 1/2 pounds peeled and deveined large shrimp
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • Cheese Grits (recipe below or your favorite), for serving
  1. In a medium saucepan, melt the butter.
  2. Add the onion and cook over moderate heat until softened, about 5 minutes.
  3. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute.
  4. Stir in the ketchup, bourbon, cider vinegar, molasses, honey, Tabasco, thyme and cayenne. Simmer over low heat, until thickened, about 40 minutes.
  5. Transfer the barbecue sauce to a blender, and puree until smooth. Season with salt and pepper. Pour 1/3 cup of the sauce into a small bowl, and reserve the rest.
  6. To Cook the Shrimp: Preheat a grill pan. Season the shrimp with salt and pepper, and brush on both sides with the 1/3 cup of barbecue sauce. Grease the grill pan with the oil. Grill the shrimp over moderate heat, turning once, until cooked through, about 4 minutes. Transfer to plates, and serve with cheese grits and the remaining barbecue sauce.

Note: The barbecue sauce can be refrigerated for up to a week.

Pairing Suggestion: Pinot Noir

*Gluten-Free Tip: Use GF butter and ketchup.

Cheese Grits

From Amber Huffman via “Food & Wine”(April 2008)

  • 4 cups low-sodium chicken broth*
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1 cup old-fashioned grits (or use your favorite, since the Grits Police aren’t coming)
  • 4 ounces extra-sharp cheddar cheese, shredded (1 1/2 cups)
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter*
  • 2 tablespoons heavy cream
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
  1. In a medium saucepan, bring the chicken broth to a boil.
  2. Add the garlic, and slowly stir in the grits.
  3. Reduce the heat to moderately low and cook, stirring frequently, until the grits are tender, 20 minutes.
  4. Remove the saucepan from the heat, and stir in the cheese, butter and cream. Season with salt and pepper, and serve immediately.

*Gluten-Free Tip: Check the labels to make sure your chicken broth and butter are gluten-free.