Creole Shrimp and Creamy Lentil Grits Sandwich

I have what seems to be a logical line of reasoning for some of the culinary experiments that I do. For example, today’s sandwich has “lentil grits.” What the hell??

Regular grits are made of coarsely milled corn. A whole grain that is often thought of as a vegetable, legume or something all its own. You can mill any whole grain or legume in a similar way and they’ll all cook up like corn grits with their own unique flavour.

While experimenting with cooking lentil grits yesterday, I cooked it with dark chicken stock (chicken stock made from roasted chicken bones). The result was a deep, rich and flavourful dish. It also stays slightly soft even as it cools. That’s somewhat by design by cooking it with a lot of stock. I wanted a softer texture to keep it spreadable so it could be used as a “condiment.”

As for the sandwich, if I’m going to go on a bit of a limb stretching the notion of grits, I should at least do a classic pairing of Shrimp N Grits. So that’s what I did! Enjoy!!

Creole Shrimp and Creamy Lentil Grits Sandwich

For the Creamy Lentil Grits:

1/3 cup whole red lentils

2 cups chicken stock

2 Tbsp butter

   In a blender or food processor, add the dry lentils and pulse a few times to get a coarse meal texture.

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Add the chicken stock to a medium pot over medium high heat. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to medium and slowly whisk in the prepared Lentil Grits.

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Whisk the mixture occasionally for about 10-12 minutes. As the mixture thickens, whisk more constantly for another 12-15 minutes until very thick. Add the butter and whisk for a further 2-3 minutes. Take off the heat, transfer to a bowl to cool.

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For the Creole Shrimp:

Creole Spice Mix:

   1/2 tsp cumin seeds

   1/2 tsp celery seeds

   1 tsp sweet paprika

   1 tsp garlic powder

   1 tsp dried oregano

100g/4 oz shrimp, cut into 2cm/1″ pieces

1 + 2 tsp oil

1 medium onion, peeled and finely chopped

1/2 sweet bell pepper, stems and seeds removed, finely chopped

1 jalapeño, stem and seeds removed, finely chopped

3 tbsp fresh lovage leaves (or 2 stalks celery), finely chopped

1/2 cup chicken stock

1/2 cup cream

Green parts from 2 green onions, finely chopped

   In a blender, add the cumin seed, celery seed, paprika, garlic powder and dried oregano. Grind until a powder is achieved.

   In a small bowl, combine the Creole Spice Mix and shrimp. Toss to coat the shrimp liberally with the spices.

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In a large pan over medium high heat, add 1 tsp oil. When the oil is hot and smouldering, but not smoking, add the spice-coated shrimp. Quickly sauté for 45-60 seconds per side. Take the shrimp out of the pan and set aside in a bowl.

   To the same pan, add the other 2 tsp of oil. When the oil is hot and smouldering, add the onion, peppers, jalapeño and lovage. Stir and sauté for 3-4 minutes to soften but not brown.

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   Add the chicken stock and cream and bring to a gentle boil. Reduce heat to medium and simmer while stirring with a wooden spoon for 15-20 minutes or until thickened. Add the shrimp back into the sauce, stir to combine and allow to simmer for another minute or so. Set aside and keep warm.

For the sandwich:

Prepared Creamy Lentil Grits

Prepared Creole Shrimp

2 ciabatta bread (10cm/4″ x 5cm/2″ in size), sliced open

   Spread the Creamy Lentil Grits liberally on the cut side of the top and bottom of the bread. Divide the Creole Shrimp over the bottom of the bread. Top with the top of the bread and serve. Serves 2-3.

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