Chef Jesse’s signature dish: Spicy Shrimp on a bed of Cheddar Grits Cake

By on June 23, 2017

This recipe is super glamorous, super easy to make, and super easy to serve. Chef Jesse calls it his signature dish.
In writing his book with him, POW! My Life in 40 Feasts, this is one of the best concoctions he ever dreamed up. If you can make grits, it you can saute shrimp, then you can make this your go-to summer entertaining dish. It’s that good.

Chef Jesse’s signature dish. Yum.

photo by: David Verdini
Chef uses stone ground grits he gets from the grocery store under Bob’s Red Mill. Me? I swear by instant grits. So easy. So convenient and ready in 5 minutes.

Spiced Shrimp on a Bed of Cheddar Grits Cakes with Microgreens
Makes 8 servings
Chef Jesse’s Seafood essence spice (see below)
16 medium shrimp
1/2 cup unsalted butter (1 stick)
1/4 cup grape seed oil
1-1/2 teaspoon fresh minced garlic
1/2 cup EACH: red and yellow peppers, minced
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1-1/2 cups shrimp stock*
microgreens or fresh minced parsley for garnish
Remove shrimp from their shells. Keep shells to make a shrimp stock*. Place shrimp in a small bowl, then combine Chef Jesse’s seafood essence, and mix a couple tablespoons with the shrimp. Marinate in the fridge for 4 hours or overnight for more flavor — I recommend overnight.
In a sauté pan, melt butter and oil. On medium heat, quickly sauté shrimp on both sides. Remove from pan quickly, set on a plate.
Sauté garlic and peppers for 1 minute. Add flour to make a roux. Stirring all the time, add shrimp stock. Let sauce get thick to make a roux, then adjust seasoning. Add seared shrimp back into the pan and stir to heat shrimp through.
Serve over cheese grits cakes. Drizzle some roux on the plate. Finish with microgreens or fresh green herbs.
*To make an instant seafood stock, boil shrimp shells in 2 cups hot water with a bit of salt, then strain to make stock. Store up to 3 days covered in the refrigerator.

Chef Jesse’s Seafood Essence
Make up a batch of this essence minus the fresh herbs and keep it in your pantry in a closed glass jar. POW!
1 teaspoon EACH: dried thyme, sweet paprika, granulated garlic
1/2 teaspoon EACH: black and white pepper, kosher salt, granulated onion AND red pepper. Store in the pantry. Add fresh ingredients just before using.
1/2 teaspoon EACH: fresh thyme, rosemary and tarragon, finely minced

Chef Jesse’s Cheddar Grits Disc Cakes
Makes 24 discs
These POW! Flavored discs make a great base for a lot of different dishes. Make up a batch and keep them in the refrigerator until serving time. Then heat them in the oven, cut with a biscuit cutter then plate them and add toppings. POW!
4 cups water
1 teaspoon kosher salt
½ teaspoon white pepper
½ cup butter (1 stick)
1 cup old fashioned or stone ground grits* “Bob’s Red Mill brand”
1 cup heavy cream
1 cup cheddar cheese, shredded
1 cup pepper jack cheese, shredded
Generously butter a 9 x 12 utility pan. Heat water to a boil in a large pot then add salt, pepper, and butter. Whisk in the grits. Reduce heat to medium, cover and cook 30 minutes, stirring frequently. Add cream and cook 5 minutes. Stir in cheese, then pour into the prepared pan.
Cool grits until firm. Use a biscuit cutter to cut them, then arrange on a lightly buttered baking sheet and bake 5 minutes or until lightly tinged brown on the edges.
To serve, place a grits disc on the dinner plate, top with shrimp then add a sprinkle of microgreens or parsley.

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About Linda Eckhardt

Linda West Eckhardt, is an award winning journalist, food writer, and nutritionist. Her more than 20 cookbooks have garnered prizes including the James Beard prize for the best cookbook for a text she wrote with her daughter, Katherine West DeFoyd, entitled Entertaining 101, Doubleday. Their follow-up book, Stylish One Dish Dinners, Doubleday, was also nominated for a James Beard prize. Their next book, The High Protein Cookbook, Clarkson Potter, remains a best seller after 12 years. That book was designed to accompany low carb diet plans. Her ground-breaking book, Bread in Half The Time, Broadway Books, was named the Best Cookbook in America by the prestigious IACP, The Julia Child award. Her award winning radio work with Jennifer English, for a national show on the Food and Wine radio network, was nominated for a James Beard Prize for a show called, “I Know What You Ate Last Summer.”