Tasso ham is a spicy hot cured pork shoulder, which shows up in many Cajun or Creole recipes. It is sold in 2-3 pound pieces and what I don’t use I freeze in big chunks, which can be added later on to eggs, potatoes or any cooked vegetable – so delicious. You may substitute any hard cheese you like for the grits. A mixture of white cheddar and parmesan would be nice, I like to use all Manchego because of its nutty rich taste. Use stone ground corn grits for this recipe and steer clear of instant grits, they just don’t have the flavor traditional grits have. This recipe is easily doubled.
1 cup stone ground corn grits
4 cups water
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup shredded Manchego cheese (about 2 ounces)
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
1 large shallot, minced
8 ounces Tasso ham, diced into 1/2” pieces
1 pound raw shrimp, shelled and deveined (thawed if frozen)
1 ½ cups red or yellow cherry tomatoes, cut in half
¼ cup dry white wine
8-10 basil leaves rolled up together and cut into thin strips (chiffonade)
Salt and pepper to taste
• In a large sauce pan bring the water and salt to a boil and add the grits in a steady stream. • Stir constantly until it becomes thickened. • Reduce the heat to low and stir from time to time adding additional water a few tablespoons at a time to prevent sticking. About 25 minutes. The timing and water amount depends of the size of the grind and how fresh it is. • When the grits are done, remove from the heat and add the cheese and butter. Keep warm on a very low burner. • Heat a large non-stick sauté pan to medium high heat and add 1 tablespoon of unsalted butter, shallots and the Tasso. Sauté until the Tasso is golden brown and the shallots are soft. About 5 minutes. • Remove the Tasso with a slotted spoon and reserve. • Add the last tablespoon of butter and sauté the shrimp for about 2-3 minutes or until they are just pink and cooked through. Remove them and add to the Tasso. • Add the cherry tomatoes to the pan and sauté them until they are soft and the juices are released. • Add the white wine and simmer for a minute. • Add back the Tasso and shrimp mixture and the basil. • Remove from the heat and toss to combine. • Spoon the grits into 4 large shallow soup bowls and top with the shrimp and Tasso.