Serves 6 to 8
Recipe from "Magnolias Authentic Southern Cuisine" by Donald Barickman.
For the grits cakes:
6 cups water
2 1/2 cups stone-ground grits
1 cup heavy cream
4 tablespoons butter
2 teaspoons salt
Pinch white pepper
Make grits cakes: Bring the water to a boil in a heavy-bottomed stockpot or large saucepan. Slowly pour in the grits, stirring constantly. Reduce the heat to low and continue to stir so the grits do not settle to the bottom and scorch. After 8 to 10 minutes, the grits will plump up. Cook the grits over low heat 30 to 35 minutes, stirring frequently. Add the cream, butter, salt and white pepper within the last 15 minutes. The grits will have a thick, natural creamy consistency and become soft and silky.
Pour the grits into a 9-by-13-inch pan. If you have to use a different pan, remember that the grits have to be at least 1 1/4 inches thick. Cool to room temperature, cover and refrigerate. When the grits mixture is set, cut it into the desired shapes and reserve.
For the tomato gravy:
Makes 3 cups
You can finely chop the tomato by hand, blend it with a blender or use a hand blender.
5 tablespoons butter
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 cups milk
1/4 cup tomato juice
1 cup peeled, seeded and diced fresh tomato
1 bay leaf
2 teaspoons salt
Make the gravy: Heat 2 tablespoons of the butter without browning it. Stir in the flour and cook over very low heat for 3 minutes, stirring constantly. Add half the milk and stir vigorously until the mixture becomes thick and is smooth. Add the rest of the milk and the tomato juice; stir until the mixture thickens again. Add the tomato and the bay leaf, and cook over low to medium heat for 15 to 20 minutes, stirring frequently. Skim off any foam that may come to the surface and discard.
Allow the gravy to cook over very low heat for another 10 to 15 minutes, stirring frequently. Season with salt and white pepper. Discard the bay leaf. Whisk in the remaining butter. Adjust the consistency of the gravy with water if it becomes too thick.
For the sautéed shrimp and leeks:
1 cup cornmeal
1/4 cup light olive oil
2 tablespoons butter
1 1/2 cups sliced and washed leeks
1 pound medium shrimp, peeled and deveined
Freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley
To assemble: Dust the grits cakes with the cornmeal. Heat the olive oil over medium-high heat and pan-fry the grits cakes until they are golden brown on both sides and heated through. Cook only a few at a time so the oil will stay hot and they won't stick. A Teflon skillet works well. Place the cakes on paper towels and keep warm.
Heat the butter over medium heat, add the leeks and then cook slowly, without browning, until tender. Add the shrimp and cook until they turn pink, 1 to 2 minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
Place a grits cake on a plate and stack the leeks and shrimp on the cake. Drizzle 3 tablespoons tomato gravy over and around them. Garnish with parsley and serve immediately.