First and foremost, Happy Juneteenth! I hope you all are centering Black experiences, voices, and foodways today and always. For those who are unfamiliar with Juneteenth, it is a holiday that is celebrated yearly on June 19th to commemorate the emancipation of enslaved Africans in Galveston, TX.
In honor of Juneteenth, I thought I would finally share my recipe for Jerk Shrimp and Grits with Collard Greens. I have made this recipe for friends and family multiple times, and it is a smash hit! This recipe was my final exam for my Techniques of Regional Cuisines class. Techniques of Regional Cuisines was my first in-person Food Lab class, and I loved every minute of it! My final assignment was to write an essay documenting a foodway of my choice, then create a fusion dish incorporating the cuisine you researched and your ancestral cuisine.
I decided to examine the history of African American foodways through the lens of soul food greens. Similar to how greens unite the past and the present of African American cuisine, the motherless greens in my recipe will unite the punchy jerk shrimp and the creamy coconut milk grits together to make one cohesive dish. If you would like to read this project, I will link it here.
For my fusion, I decided to fuse my ancestral cuisine, African American Cuisine, with Jamaican cuisine! I have a deep love for Afro-Caribbean flavors. Shrimp and Grits have always been a family favorite of mine, and so has Caribbean cuisine. From ensuring my mom gets her Friday shrimp special from our favorite Jamaican restaurant to having spice competitions with my dad over jerk chicken, Caribbean cuisine is associated with family and fun in my mind.
Just like there is no Friday night without my mom getting her shrimp, there is no DuBose brunch without grits. They’re typically served with eggs and bacon in my household, but I decided to merge my family traditions with my increased knowledge of Soul Food and Afro-diasporic Cuisines for this recipe. I ended up making this dish for Mother’s Day Brunch, and it was a smash hit! I hope you all enjoy this recipe just as much as I do :)
Jerk Shrimp and Coconut Milk Grits with Motherless Greens
1½ tablespoon onion powder
1½ tablespoon garlic powder
1 tablespoon ground ginger
1 scant tablespoon dried thyme
1 teaspoon ground white pepper
½ tablespoon cinnamon
1 tablespoon ground allspice
1 tablespoon smoked paprika
½ tablespoon ground nutmeg
3 tablespoons dark brown sugar
1 tablespoon Maggi granulated chicken bouillon
2 dried and smoked habanero peppers, crushed with a mortar and pestle
Coconut Milk Grits
2 cups of chicken stock
1 13.5-ounce can of coconut milk
2-inch ginger, peeled and minced
1 cup of instant grits
1 large stalk of lemongrass
2 tablespoons of unsalted butter, divided
Salt and white pepper to taste
6 oz frozen large shrimp (or between 12 and 14 large shrimp) peeled with the tails removed
2 tablespoons of unsalted butter
1 teaspoon of coconut oil
1 ½ tablespoon of jerk seasoning
1 lime, cut in quarters
¾ pound collard greens, washed thoroughly, and chiffonade
1 small onion, diced
1 clove of garlic, minced
½ teaspoon of ginger, peeled and minced.
½ cup of chicken stock
1 stalk of green onion, thinly sliced
2 teaspoons of jerk seasoning
1 tablespoon of coconut oil
White Sugar, Lime Juice, Salt, and Black pepper to taste
Put the bag of frozen shrimp into lukewarm water to defrost. Set aside.
Combine Jerk Seasoning spices into a bowl and mix well. Transfer to a jar and set aside.
Remove the stems of the collard greens, chiffonade, and wash them thoroughly until the water running through the greens is clear.
Melt coconut oil in a medium sauté pan over medium heat. Add onion, green onion ginger, garlic, and jerk seasoning. Sauté until onion is soft and beginning to brown, about 7 minutes.
Stir in greens and stock and bring to a simmer. Decrease the heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer, stirring occasionally, until greens are tender or until there is no more liquid, about 25 minutes. Season with salt, sugar, lime juice, and black pepper to taste.
Melt one tablespoon of butter in a medium pot. Once butter is melted, add the minced ginger and minced lemongrass bulbs. Sauté until fragrant.
Add the chicken stock, coconut milk, and the tops of the lemongrass stalks to the pot.
Bring the mixture to a boil, and reduce it to a simmer for 5 minutes.
Remove the lemongrass tops and add the grits. Stir frequently until grits have absorbed all of the liquid, about 5 minutes.
Finish with the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter, and salt and pepper to taste.
Pat the defrosted shrimp dry, peel, and devein them, then toss them in a bowl with one tablespoon of your prepared jerk seasoning. Work the seasoning into the shrimp to ensure it is fully coated. It is okay if there is extra jerk seasoning at the bottom of the bowl.
Heat 2 tablespoons of butter in a nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Once the butter is melted, add one teaspoon of oil. Add the shrimp and cook for 2 minutes. When the edges turn pink, typically after the first minute, flip the shrimp with tongs and cook the other side for 30 seconds to 1 minute. Remove to a plate or bowl. If you don't have a nonstick skillet large enough to hold all the shrimp, do it in batches, do not overcrowd the pan.
Prepare two bowls with grits, layer the greens, then top with the shrimp. Use the remaining oil from cooking the shrimp as a sauce to drizzle on top. Do not forget the bits of jerk seasoning towards the bottom of the pan!