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Southern Fried Asiago Grits with Shrimp, Country Ham and Red-Eyed Gravy

Servings: 6

Ingredients:

For Red Eyed Gravy:
2 tablespoons butter
1/2 cup (3 ounces) country ham, minced
1/2 cup (2 ounces) shiitake mushrooms, stems removed, sliced
1/2 cup onion, peeled, minced
1/4 cup Madeira
1/4 cup espresso or coffee, strong
1 cup chicken broth, cold
1 tablespoon corn starch
1/2 cup canned tomatoes in juice, diced, pureed
1 tablespoon fresh thyme, minced
1 teaspoon hot chili sauce

For Wisconsin Asiago Grits:
4 cups water
1 cup grits
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon garlic, minced
1 cup (3 ounces) Wisconsin asiago cheese, grated
1/4 cup cream

For Shrimp:
2 tablespoons butter
3/4 cup green bell pepper, minced
1 1/4 pounds shrimp, peeled, deveined
1 teaspoon hot chili sauce
1/2 cup flat leaf parsley, minced

Cooking Directions:

For Red Eyed Gravy: Toss shiitake mushrooms with oil to coat and bake at 450° F for approximately five minutes to brown and intensify the flavor. Set aside.

In a large skillet over high heat, melt the butter and add the ham and brown. Add the mushrooms and onion to skillet and continue to brown while stirring. Pour in the Madeira and coffee and simmer to reduce by half. Dissolve the corn starch in the cold chicken broth, whisk into the ham and chili sauce and gently simmer about 3 minutes to combine flavors. Set aside.

For Wisconsin Asiago Grits: Bring the water to a boil and slowly stir in the grits, salt and garlic. Simmer, stirring occasionally until the grits are thick and soft, about 10 minutes. Whisk in the grated cheese and the cream. Keep the grits hot in a water bath. Stirring occasionally, for up to one hour. Stir in more water to thin the consistency of the grits, if needed.

For Shrimp: In a separate large skillet over high heat, melt the butter, add the minced green pepper and sauté for one minute. Add the shrimp and chili sauce an sauté until the shrimp are just pink. Stir in the reserved ham and mushroom sauce and remove from heat just as the sauce warms.

Divide the grits among six plates. Spoon the shrimp and gravy over the grits, sprinkle with parsley and serve.

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