Smoky Oaxacan Shrimp and Grits

Smoky Oaxacan Shrimp and Grits
Smoky Oaxacan Shrimp and Grits

The Pasilla de Oaxaca is a gorgeous chile pepper, smoky and rich and almost meaty in both taste and texture. We wanted to feature this pepper because it’s such a superstar, so we decided to do an updated, smoky version of a classic shrimp and grits.

Grits are hearty and satisfying, and on their own they’re a blank slate ready to take on flavor. They are often dense, flavored with cheese and heavy cream, and while that’s delicious, there’s more than one way to cook a grit. We lightened ours up by using chicken broth instead of heavy cream. We gave it tons of flavor from the Pasilla de Oaxaca chiles, smoked paprika, bourbon barrel smoked pepper, and smoked sea salt. We added just a bit of butter at the end for creaminess, and tomato flakes provide bright pops of sweetness to balance the smoke. Lightly tossed in olive oil and smoked sweet paprika, shrimp ups the nutritional value and adds a bit of texture and color. Poaching an egg to go on top is entirely optional, but the rich, runny yolk brings a more luxurious mouthfeel to the entire dish and unifies all the flavors.

Of course, you can tweak this dish to your tastes. You don’t have to add the egg at the end. You can put grilled chicken on the grits instead of shrimp. If you want to make this vegetarian use vegetable broth instead of chicken broth, and top the grits with seared tofu or strips of roasted acorn squash. We chose regular grits for our dish because it was easier for us to manage the prep time; we sauteed our shrimp while the grits cooked, and they were both finished at about the same time. And we garnished our dish with a sprinkling of parsley, but it would also be lovely with chives or lemon thyme, if you happened to have some on hand.

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Prep Time: 20 min.
Cooking Time: 30 min.
Cuisine: American
  1. Rehydrate tomato flakes in warm water for 20 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile remove stem and seeds from chiles and toast in a medium hot dry pan for 2 or minutes on each side.
  3. Simmer Chiles, broth, and Applewood Salt in a covered pot for 25 minutes or longer for a more intense smokey flavor. Strain broth and once again measure liquid adding water to broth to equal 4 cups.
  4. Shell and devein thawed shrimp and toss with Olive oil, Kosher Salt, and Paprika
  5. Bring broth to a boil, add 1 tablespoon of butter, and slowly add grits while constantly whisking. Follow cooking instructions of the grits you have chosen.
  6. While the grits are cooking, saute Shrimp 2 or 3 minutes on each side in a preheated large pan on medium high heat. Do not overcrowd the pan.This will probably have to be done in 2 batches. Squeeze a little lemon on the shrimp as they finish cooking.
  7. Poach the eggs
  8. When the grits are finished cooking stir in tomato flakes and 1 or 2 tablespoons of butter depending on your desired consistency.
  9. Spoon grits into a shallow bowl and top with shrimp and a poached egg.