Second only to me, the greatest love of a certain spouse of mine is nachos. I don’t think ‘obsession’ is too strong a word. Every time we go out for a happy hour, during most NBA games, or when a craving strikes, nachos are eaten, or at least longed for. With this wandering foodie mind of mine, I’ve brainstormed what it would be like to make plates of nachos inspired by different geographies: Chinese, Italian, Indian, Greek, and so on. One of my first mental stops was right at home: the South.
If you’re a Yankee and unfamiliar with shrimp and grits, they’re warm, cheesy, creamy grits (aka ‘polenta’) with bell peppers, some form of ham, some fresh scallions, and shrimp. They’re good, I guess. In my opinion, they’re in dire need of some crunch. There’s much creamy richness to be had, but the textures lack complexity and contrast. Enter: nachos.
Since we’re on the subject of crunch, you’ll notice this recipe calls for Grit Chips. From what I understand, Wal-Mart carries them– I, however, had no such luck. Fortunately, tortilla chips worked just fine. It’s all corn, after all.


Shrimp & Grits Nachos

Cajun Queso:

4 Tbsp (2 oz) butter
⅓ cups + 1 Tbsp flour
1 ½ tsp Cajun seasoning
1 finely chopped jalapeno
2 ½ cups warm milk
10 dashes Tabasco
1 ½ tsp kosher salt
½ tsp crushed red pepper flakes
4 oz (½ block) shredded mild cheddar
4 oz (½ block) shredded pepper jack

Melt butter on medium high heat. When butter is completely melted, lower heat to medium low and cook until sizzling stops. Whisk in flour and Cajun seasoning. Cook for 2 minutes. Add jalapenos; cook one more minute.
While whisking vigorously, gradually add milk. Add Tabasco, salt, and pepper flakes, and cook until thickened, about 5-10 minutes.
While whisking, gradually add in shredded cheese.


Grit chips or Tortilla chips
Red and green bell pepper, diced or sliced
Fully cooked shrimp
Fully cooked andouille sausage, ham, or bacon
Scallions, sliced

Pour a small dollop of Cajun queso on a serving plate. Top with an even layer of nachos, about two chips deep. Pour a ladle of prepared warm queso over the chips. Add a second layer of chips and repeat ladling queso over the chips. Top with warm shrimp, chopped andouille, ham, or bacon, bell peppers, and finally garnish with sliced scallions. Serve immediately. 


I gotta tell you, whilst eating that queso sauce, my aforementioned spouse commented no fewer than three times, “This is REALLY good queso.” The ultimate seal of approval has been granted.

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