One Beautiful Bowl:
Tanya Holland’s Shrimp and Grits

July 2016

Photo: Jody Horton

SFMOMA’s flagship restaurant, In Situ, offers a bracing new concept in fine dining. Three-Michelin-star chef Corey Lee has curated a menu of innovative and intriguing dishes from 80 chefs from around the world. On the menu you’ll find this recipe from Tanya Holland, Executive Chef and owner of Oakland’s Brown Sugar Kitchen and B-Side BBQ. Comforting and rich, it perfectly counters the cool breezes of autumn.

Creole shrimp and grits (serves 4)

  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • ¼ cup each diced green and red bell pepper
  • 3 green onions, white and green parts, thinly sliced
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 teaspoons Creole Spice Mix (see recipe below)
  • 1 ½ lbs medium shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • ¾ cup Creole Sauce (see recipe below)
  • ¼ cup heavy cream
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 5 ounces baby spinach leaves
  • 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
  • White Cheddar Grits (see recipe below)

In a large sauté pan, heat the oil over medium heat until shimmering. Add the green and red bell peppers, green onions, garlic, and the Creole Spice Mix, and cook until the vegetables are softened, about 5 minutes. Add the shrimp and sear just until opaque, turning once, about 2 minutes. Stir in the Creole Sauce, cream, and butter, and bring to a simmer. Add the spinach a handful at a time, stirring to wilt and coat with sauce. Once all the spinach has been added, remove the pan from the heat and stir in the lemon juice. Serve immediately over the grits.

Creole Spice Mix (about 1½ cups)

In a bowl, stir together the following until thoroughly combined: 3 tablespoons each kosher salt, herbes de Provence, and ground cumin; 1/3 cup cayenne pepper; and ¼ cup each sweet paprika and freshly ground black pepper. Spice mix will keep in an airtight container for up to 6 months.

Creole Sauce (about 1 cup)

  • 1 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2 green onions, white parts only, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic
  • 12-ounce bottle wheat beer, such as hefeweizen
  • ¾ cup Worcestershire sauce

In a medium saucepan, melt the butter over low heat. Add the green onions and garlic, and cook until softened, about 5 minutes. Add the beer and Worcestershire sauce and increase the heat to medium-high. Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer, and cook until thick and syrupy and reduced to about 1 cup, 15 to 20 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool. (Sauce will keep refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 1 week.)

White Cheddar Grits (serves 4)

  • 2 ¾ cups water
  • 2/3 cup quick-cooking grits
  • 2 tablespoons heavy cream
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 4 ounces sharp white Cheddar cheese, grated
  • 1 ½ teaspoons kosher salt
  • Pinch of white pepper

In a medium saucepan, bring the water to a boil. Whisk in the grits, reduce to a simmer, and cook, stirring constantly, until the grits are fully cooked and thick, about 4 minutes. Stir in the cream, butter, cheese, salt and white pepper. Cover and keep warm over very low heat until serving.