Oysters and Grits with Roasted Tomatoes

An update on shrimp and grits from one of our favorite Southern chefs
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Oysters and Grits

Roasting tomatoes intensifies their flavor and provides a smack of umami to Ashley Christensen's slight variation on shrimp and grits. When making the oyster sauté, allow the cooking liquid to reduce so the flavors will concentrate. Although Christensen makes the dish with freshly shucked oysters, we substituted in canned oysters for convenience.

To learn more read, "Poole's Gold."

Oysters and Grits with Roasted Tomatoes

Recipe adapted from Ashley Christensen, Poole's Diner, Raleigh, NC

Yield: 6 to 8 servings

Prep Time: 1 hour

Cook Time: 3 hours and 15 minutes

Total Time: 4 hours and 15 minutes


For the Roasted Tomatoes:

1½ pounds roma tomatoes, halved lengthwise, seeds removed

Kosher salt, to taste

For the Grits:

8 cups water

2 cups heavy cream

1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon kosher salt

2 cups stone-ground white grits

For the Oyster Sauté:

¼ cup olive oil

8 cups oyster mushrooms, stems removed, caps torn in half

4 cloves garlic, finely chopped

2 large shallots, finely chopped (1½ cups)

Kosher salt and cracked black pepper, to taste

6 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided

Six 8-ounce (about 3½ cups) cans of whole oysters, drained

¼ cup sweet sherry wine

Roasted tomatoes

½ cup heavy cream

1½ teaspoons finely grated lemon zest

⅛ teaspoon ground cayenne pepper

¼ cup finely chopped chives (optional)


1. Make the tomatoes: Preheat the oven to 275°. Place the tomatoes on a work surface, cut side up, and season them with salt.

2. Transfer the tomatoes to a wire rack placed over a foiled-lined, rimmed baking sheet.

3. Bake the tomatoes, uncovered, until they begin to slightly shrivel, 1 hour and 30 minutes to 2 hours. Remove from the oven and let the tomatoes cool until they are ready to handle. Remove the peel from the tomatoes and dice the flesh; set aside. Make ahead: The tomatoes can be cooked, diced and chilled the day before.

4. Make the grits: In a 4-quart saucepan, bring the water, cream and salt to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium-low and using a whisk, stir in the grits. Cook, stirring often, until the grits are tender and creamy, 40 to 50 minutes depending on the coarseness of the grits. Remove from heat and set aside in a warm place.

5. Meanwhile, make the oyster sauté: Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Brown the mushrooms, working in batches if needed, tossing occasionally, until they are slightly crispy and brown around edges, 10 to 12 minutes. Add the garlic and shallots. Season with salt and cook, stirring occasionally, until the shallots and garlic have softened, 4 to 5 minutes. Add 3 tablespoons of the butter and cook for another 5 minutes. Add the oysters and sauté until the ribbed sides begin to curl slightly, 6 to 8 minutes. Add the sherry and reduce, stirring often, until most of the liquid has evaporated, 15 to 20 minutes. Add the roasted tomatoes and cream, continue to simmer for 10 minutes. Stir in the remaining 3 tablespoons of butter, lemon zest and cayenne. Simmer until the butter is fully emulsified into the dish. Season with salt and pepper.

6. To serve, divide the grits among 8 bowls. Top each bowl with the oyster sauté and chives.

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