Makes 24 appetizers

Louisiana Gouda Grits with Shrimp and Bourbon Coffee Drizzle

New Years Eve in New Orleans at a block party and what should appear but shrimp and cheese grits. Perfectly cooked shrimp atop a cheese dish of grits and covered with a spicy sauce. The recipe below increases the flavor by turning the grits into cakes, adding a drizzle and topping with orange zest.

The Bourbon Coffee Drizzle used here is deeply intense. Such a bold flavor allows using it sparingly but serve a bit on the side for those guests who crave boldness! It can be prepared up to two days ahead of time.

The addition of smoked Gouda and crisped basil to the grits provides the perfect smoky flavor to the drizzle. Prepared with instant masa flour rather than the traditional cornmeal, the grit cakes provide the traditional corn flavor in a solid foundation manner. The grits do need to be prepared at least one day ahead with the final grilling happening right before serving.

Adding basil and lemon zest as the final Flavor Tier tops the appetizer with freshness.

Grit Cakes
2 T slightly chopped fresh basil
½ T Extra Virgin Olive Oil
4 c water
1 1/2 – 2 c instant masa flour
1 t basil sea salt
1/2 c smoked Gouda cheese, coarsely grated

Bourbon Coffee Drizzle
1/4 c strong brewed coffee
1/4 c bourbon, Evan Hill
2 T dark molasses
2 T soy sauce
1/4 c ketchup
1 T Worcestershire sauce
1/4 t dark chocolate 70% cocoa,
pinch of red pepper

24 medium shrimp (31-40 size), shelled, deveined, tails removed
1 clove garlic, minced
2 T extra virgin olive oil

2 T lemon zest
24 small basil leaves

Flavor Tier 1

A day before serving these, cook the grits. In a small skillet, add the ½ tablespoon olive oil. Heat over high. Add 2 tablespoons basil and sauté for 1 – 2 minutes just until crisp. Remove basil and dry on a paper towel.

Flavor Tier 2

Add the masa flour and salt to 4 cups of boiling water. Turn heat down, stirring constantly until smooth. Cook over low heat for about 20-22 minutes, stirring occasionally, until all liquid is absorbed and grits are creamy.

Flavor Tier 3

Stir in gouda cheese, stirring to melt. Spread grits into oiled, sided 9 x 13 baking sheet. Spread to evenly cover entire pan. Cool completely at room temperature. Cover with plastic wrap and place in refrigerator over night.

Flavor Tier 4

Just before serving, heat electric griddle or skillet on high heat. Cut grits with 2” round cookie cutter. Brush one side of circle with olive oil. Place on griddle, oiled side down. Brush oil on top side. Cook each side 2-3 minutes until browned on both. Place on platter.

Flavor Tier 5

This tier can be cooked the day before and reheated in microwave.
Combine coffee, bourbon, molasses and soy sauce in small pan over medium high heat. Stir to dissolve. Reduce by half. Whisk in ketchup and Worcestershire. Stir and simmer for 5-6 minutes. Add chocolate and red pepper. Stir. Keep warm. When ready to use, remove from heat and place in squirt bottle.

Flavor Tier 6

Add olive oil and garlic to large skillet over medium high heat. Heat until fragrant. Add shrimp. Cook, stirring occasionally, just until shrimp turns bright pink.

Flavor Tier 7

Place 1 shrimp on each grit round. Drizzle with bourbon coffee sauce. Tuck one basil leaf partly under each shrimp. Sprinkle ¼ teaspoon lemon zest on each grit round. Serve.