Sunday, January 24, 2016

43. Shrimp and Grits Tacos with Smoked Green Tomato Sauce


I've had this taco in my mind since the beginning of this project.  It's taken me a long time to get around to it, though.  There has always been a reason to put it on the back burner.

In my opinion, it definitely had to be a brunch taco.  Shrimp and grits are good ANYTIME, but I specifically envisioned this taco with bacon and salty dogs on the side - brunch.  Eating tacos and having drinks at noon are things that a person can only do on certain days of the week (for obvious reasons).  Ha ha.

Also, I've been trying to rotate my main ingredients.  I didn't want to make these tacos immediately after, say, Crispy Shrimp Tacos with Sriracha.  (Those were awesome, by the way.  Check them out!)

Well, at long last, here they are!  You'll notice that I incorporated the grits into the taco shell.  I don't know . . . a pile of grits on a tortilla just seemed kind of strange and redundant to me.  I made a shell similar to some of the other pancake-like shells that I've used in other brunch taco recipes.  The grits and the cheese made these a little tougher to work with, but the grits flavor came through.

I got out my trusty Cameron stovetop smoker for this one.  If you don't have one yet, you should think about getting one.  We love ours!  We use it regularly - probably at least a couple of times a month.  It's awesome!  You can even cook vegetables in it.  You'd be amazed at how much flavor a smoked onion can add to your favorite soup recipe.  Seriously!

Here's a link to buy it from Amazon:

Read the reviews - it's well worth the price!  It's very easy to use, too.

If you don't have a smoker or don't want to deal with it, you could probably cut the green tomatoes into chunks and roast them in the oven.  You wouldn't get the smoke flavor, but it would probably still be tasty!

Overall, I'm pretty happy with these tacos!  Here's the recipe:

Shrimp and Grits Tacos with Smoked Green Tomato Sauce

Makes about 9 or 10 small tacos, or about 3 servings


For the smoked green tomato sauce:

4 medium green tomatoes

Olive oil for drizzling
2 scallions, trimmed and chopped
1 jalapeno, seeded and chopped
1 tbsp. white vinegar
1/4 to 1/2 tsp. kosher salt
Dash cayenne pepper

For the grits pancakes:

3/4 cup water
1/2 tbsp. butter
1/4 cup grits

This is the kind I used.  They are not quick-cooking.  If you use those, you may need to adjust the cooking time.
1 1/2 cups whole milk, divided
½ cup all-purpose flour
1 tsp. baking powder
½ tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. kosher salt
1 egg
1 tbsp. butter, melted
1/2 cup finely grated sharp white cheddar cheese

For the shrimp:

1 tbsp. olive oil
3 tbsp. butter, divided
1/2 sweet onion, finely chopped
1/2 red pepper, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 lb. large shrimp, peeled (and deveined, if desired)
1/2 tsp. Cajun seasoning (such as Tony Chachere's)
1 Roma tomato, chopped


1.  Smoke the green tomatoes and make the sauce:  Trim the tomatoes and slice about 1/2 inch thick.  Drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper to taste.  Smoke in a stovetop smoker for about 15 minutes.  Allow the tomatoes to cool.  Place the tomatoes in a high-powered blender along with the other ingredients and blend until fairly smooth.  Taste and adjust seasonings if desired.  Set aside. 

2.  While the tomatoes are cooking, start the grits.  Combine the water, butter, and a pinch of salt in a small saucepan.  Bring to a boil.  Stir in the grits, lower the heat to very low, and cook, covered, for about 15 minutes.  Add 1/4 cup of the milk  and cook, stirring, for an additional 10 minutes.  (You'll use the additional 1 and 1/4 cups milk in the pancake mixture.)

Set aside and allow to cool.

3.  Finish the pancake shells:  Combine the cooled grits and all remaining pancake ingredients except the chives in a blender.  Blend on medium speed until fairly smooth.  Transfer to a medium bowl.  Spray a large skillet with non-stick cooking spray and heat over medium-low heat.  Cook the pancakes, 3 at a time, using about 3 tablespoons of the batter for each one.  They should spread out to about the size of a street-taco tortilla.

When the top is mostly set and the bottom is lightly golden, flip and cook the other side.  Do not attempt to flip until the top is set!  (I'm not going to lie - these are tough to work with.  I think it's the cheese.  Some of mine were really hard to flip.  I would use a generous amount of cooking spray and go slow.  After you flip them, they are still very pliable, which is helpful if you need to "fix" them.)   As the pancakes are finished, stack them on a sheet of foil.  When they are all done, carefully wrap them up and keep warm in a 250 degree oven.

4.  Cook the shrimp:  Heat the olive oil and 1 tbsp. of the butter in a large skillet over medium heat.  Add the onion and red pepper.  Lower the heat a bit and cook until softened, about 8 minutes.  Add the garlic and cook, stirring, for an additional minute.  Add the remaining 2 tbsp. of butter and stir to melt.  Raise the heat to medium high.

Toss the shrimp with the Cajun seasoning.  Add them, along with the tomatoes, to the pan.  Cook, stirring, until the shrimp are just done, about 5 minutes.

Remove from the heat.

5.  Assemble the tacos:  For each taco, place a pancake shell on a plate and top it with about three or four of the shrimp.  Top with some of the smoked green tomato sauce.  Garnish with a little more of the Cajun seasoning, if desired.  Enjoy!  :)

Well, this wasn't what you would call a "quick and easy" recipe, but the results were worth it!

Let's be real.  I don't think any of my recipes could qualify as "quick and easy".  Oh, well.  :)

I wasn't sure how well these would go over at our house.  Ha ha.  Steve has always thought that shrimp and grits is a strange combination.  He thinks the same thing about chicken and waffles.  How is he ever going to order anything at a hipster brunch restaurant?


Anyway, he was sold on these!  We both were.  The shrimp had a lot of flavor, the smoky kick from the sauce was perfect, and those cheesy grits pancakes were so good!  Since they were difficult to work with, I thought about adding more flour to the batter, but I'm glad I didn't.  They were so moist and cheesy . . . they just require patience.  And lots of cooking spray.  Trust me.  Use cooking spray - not oil!

I actually made these on a Monday!  It was Martin Luther King day, and my last day before spring semester classes started.  I'm only just now getting the post done.  The first week of school is always an experience!

Well, on to the next one.  I wonder if a chicken and waffle taco could work.  O.O  I don't know if that's the best idea ever or just . . . wrong.  What do you think?  Feel free to comment!  :)

Thanks for reading!  :)

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