Over the past quarter century, the Oxford restaurant scene has become one of the South’s very best. The man most responsible for that renaissance is Chef John Currence.
When he opened City Grocery in 1992, Oxford became a food destination. The New Orleans native and John Beard Award winner would later add Boure, Snackbar, and Big Bad Breakfast to the Oxford restaurant scene and acquire the chic Lamar Lounge. Any and all of these have unique tempts to keep you coming back time and time again.
But sometimes you want a classic – that familiar dish that never lets you down. For me, that’s Chef Currence’s Shrimp and Grits at City Grocery.
His were the first I ever had and have been hooked on them ever since.
I’ve never attempted to replicate them, but if you’re willing to take a shot at it, here’s the recipe courtesy of the “Square Table” cookbook published by the Yoknapatawpha Arts Council.
City Grocery Shrimp & Grits
* 1 cup quick grits (not instant)
* 4 tbsp unsalted butter
* 3/4 cup extra-sharp, white Cheddar cheese
* 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
* 1 tsp cayenne pepper
* 1 1/2 tbsp paprika
* 1 tbsp Tabasco sauce
* 1/2 tsp salt
* Pepper to taste
* 6 slices chopped, smoked bacon
* 3 tbsp olive oil
* 1 1/2 lbs raw shrimp, 26-30 count, peeled and deveined
* 3 tsp minced garlic
* 3 cups sliced mushrooms
* 2 tbsp fresh lemon juice
* 3 tbsp white wine
* 2 cups sliced green onions (optional)
For grits, cook grits according to the package instructions (note: add 1/2 tsp salt to boiling water). Whisk in butter, Cheddar, Parmesan, cayenne, paprika and Tabasco. Mix thoroughly.
For shrimp, in a skillet over medium-high heat, cook bacon until it begins to brown. Remove from heat and reserve bacon and drippings. Heat a large skillet until very hot. Add olive oil and 2 tbsp reserved bacon grease. As oil begins to smoke, toss in shrimp to cover bottom of pan. Before stirring, season with salt and pepper to taste. Stir until shrimp begin to turn pink all over. Let pan return to its original hot temperature. Stir in minced garlic and bacon bits. Be careful not to burn the garlic. Toss in mushrooms and quickly coat with oil. Add lemon juice and wine. Stir until everything is well coated, about 30 seconds. Toss in green onions and stir about 20 seconds. Serve over grits.