2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil (EVOO)
- 3 tablespoons butter, divided
- 4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
- 1 medium onion, finely chopped
- 2 ribs celery with green leafy tops, finely chopped
- 1 small green bell pepper, seeded and finely chopped
- 4-5 sprigs fresh thyme, intact
- 1 bay leaf, fresh or dried
- Salt and black pepper
- 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce (eyeball it)
- 1-2 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons hot sauce, such as Frank's RedHot brand, divided
- 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 1/2 cup beer (about 1/3 bottle)
- 3 cups chicken stock, divided
1 can diced tomatoes (14 ounces)
- 1 cup chopped frozen okra (optional)
- 1 1/2 pounds medium-large shrimp, peeled, deveined, tails removed
- 1 cup whole milk
- 1 cup quick-cooking polenta
Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add 2 tablespoons EVOO, about two turns of the pan, and 1 tablespoon butter. When the butter melts into the EVOO, add the garlic, onion, celery, bell pepper, thyme and bay leaf, then season with salt and pepper. Cook the veggies for 7-8 minutes, until tender. Add in the Worcestershire sauce, 1-2 tablespoons hot sauce (medium to spicy heat level) and the flour and cook for 1 minute more. Add in the beer and cook it off, another 30 seconds or so. Whisk in 1 cup stock, then add the tomatoes and okra, if using, and bring to a bubble. Add the shrimp and cook for 3-5 minutes, until the shrimp turn pink and firm; turn off the heat. Remove the thyme stems and bay leaf.
Bring the remaining 2 tablespoons butter, 2 cups stock, 1 cup milk and 2 teaspoons hot sauce to a boil in a saucepot. Stir in 1 cup quick-cooking polenta. Stir constantly to mass the cornmeal. Once the mixture thickens to the consistency of whipped potatoes, season the "grits" with salt and divide among dinner plates.
Serve generous ladles of shrimp and sauce on a bed of creamy "grits."