At his latest Manhattan restaurant, Red Rooster Harlem, the chef Marcus Samuelsson draws from the varied parts of his background (he was born in Ethiopia, raised in Sweden and has made Harlem his home) to craft a menu of down-home American food that's entirely his own. His iteration of the classic Southern dish of shrimp and grits gets its red tint from chile powder, paprika and crushed tomatoes. The same spices flavor the sauce for the plump sautéed shrimp to create a dish that's rooted in the past but appeals to modern tastes.
Red Grits and Shrimp
Recipe adapted from Marcus Samuelsson, Red Rooster Harlem, NYC
Yield: 4 servings
½ cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 red onion, finely chopped
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 teaspoon chile powder
1 teaspoon sweet paprika
1 cup stone-ground grits
1 bay leaf
1 cup canned crushed tomatoes
1 cup fresh or frozen corn
½ cup white wine
Salt and freshly ground pepper
¼ cup fresh lemon juice
12 jumbo shrimp, peeled and deveined
8 cherry tomatoes, halved
1 tablespoon finely chopped cilantro
1 tablespoon finely chopped parsley
1. In a medium saucepan, warm ¼ cup of the olive oil over medium-low heat. Add the onion, half the garlic, ½ teaspoon of the chile powder and ½ teaspoon of the paprika and cook until the onions soften, about 5 minutes. Add the grits and bay leaf and cook, stirring, for 30 seconds. Add the crushed tomatoes, corn, ¼ cup of the white wine and 3 cups of water. Reduce the heat to low and simmer the grits, stirring frequently, until the liquid is absorbed and the grits are creamy, about 25 minutes. Discard the bay leaf and season to taste with salt and pepper.
2. Meanwhile, in a small bowl, combine 2 tablespoons of the lemon juice with 1 tablespoon of the remaining olive oil, the remaining ½ teaspoon of chile powder, the remaining ½ teaspoon of paprika and the shrimp. Let sit for 15 minutes at room temperature.
3. In a medium skillet, cook the shrimp and remaining garlic over high heat, stirring, until just pink, about 2 minutes. Add the remaining 3 tablespoons of olive oil, the remaining ¼ cup of white wine, the remaining 2 tablespoons of lemon juice, the cherry tomatoes and the cilantro and parsley and cook for 2 minutes longer. Remove from the heat and season to taste with salt and pepper.
4. Divide the grits among 4 shallow bowls. Top with the shrimp, tomatoes and sauce and serve immediately.