Ashley Farris grew up in Johns Creek and now teaches math at Northview High School. She likes spending time with her students, and when she's not at school she enjoys cooking.
Farris says she really got her start cooking a few years ago when she was a senior at the University of Georgia. At the time she was one of six roommates, several of whom, including Farris, were engaged. The roommates decided that on Monday through Thursday nights they’d have dinner together, each taking turns preparing the meals.
Farris said that she wanted to become comfortable cooking before she got married and she really enjoyed trying lots of new recipes. She comented that cooking for her roommates was a safe environment to learn and experiment.
Her experiments must have been very successful because her husband, Jesse, loves her cooking. Farris says, “I’m interested in results when I cook. I love it when the people I cook for enjoy what I’ve made.”
Below is Farris' recipe for the classic Southern dish, Shrimp and Grits. There are quite a few ingredients in this recipe but I think you’ll find it worth your while to get them together and make this dish. I know I will.
Shrimp and Grits:
- ¾ lb. wild Georgia shrimp, raw (may be pre-frozen)
- 1 Tb Cajun seasoning
- 1½ tsp paprika
- 1½ tsp Italian seasoning
- freshly ground black pepper to taste
- 1 cup water
- 1 chicken bouillon cube, or spoon of bouillon paste
- 1 Tb butter
- ½ cup quick-cooking grits
- 1½ tsp tomato paste
- ½ cup heavy cream
- 2 oz sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 1 large clove garlic, finely minced
- 4 tsp flour
- ½ cup chicken stock
- ¼ cup heavy cream
- ½ tsp Worcestershire sauce
- ¼ tsp hot sauce
- 1 slice cured country ham, cooked and torn into pieces (you can buy pre-cooked ham and substitute a different type of ham.
Peel and de-vein the shrimp.
In a small bowl combine the Cajun seasoning, the paprika, the Italian seasoning, and the pepper. Sprinkle the mixture over the shrimp, tossing until they are well coated. Set aside.
Pour the water, chicken boullion, and the butter into a heavy saucepan. Bring the mixture to a full boil. Slowly add in the grits, and whisk constantly, cooking over medium-low heat for 5 minutes.
Add the tomato paste, the cream, and the cheddar cheese. Continue to cook and whisk for 2-3 more minutes, until grits become very creamy and thick.
In a large skillet, melt the remaining 1 tablespoon of butter over medium heat. Add the garlic and cook, stirring, for about 30 seconds.
Add spice coated shrimp and cook just until they are done and tender, about 2 minutes (depending on the size of your shrimp). Do not overcook or your shrimp will get rubbery.
Remove the shrimp from the pan to a clean bowl and set aside.
Return the pan to the stove. Add the flour to the drippings, stirring to make the base of a roux. Cook for 10 minutes until medium tan in color.
Slowly whisk in the chicken stock and the cream. Cook for 2 minutes, then add the worchestershire sauce and hot sauce, stirring to incorporate.
Add the country ham.
Serve the shrimp on a generous bed of grits, topped with the roux sauce.