8 generous servings
1 teaspoon vegetable oil
1 ½ pounds large (21-25) wild American shrimp, peeled, deveined, shells and heads reserved
6 cups water
8 ounces thick-cut bacon, cut into ½-inch strips
2 large celery stalks, finely chopped (about 1 cup)
2 large carrots, finely chopped (about 1½ cups)
2 large onions, finely chopped (about 3 cups)
3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
4 bay leaves
4 short thyme sprigs
2 28-ounce cans crushed tomatoes
1 pound new potatoes, scrubbed and quartered
1 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more to taste
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, or to taste
2 teaspoons hot pepper sauce, or to taste
1½ pounds lean fish fillets (such as snapper or striped bass), cut into 2-inch pieces
4 hard-cooked eggs, halved, quartered, or coarsely chopped
Coarsely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley, for garnish
6 cups freshly cooked stoneground grits, rice
Buttered saltine crackers, as an accompaniment
- Heat the oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add the shrimp shells and heads. Cook, stirring constantly, until they turn pink. Add the water and bring to a simmer. Cook gently until the liquid reduces to 4 cups, about 15 minutes. Strain the stock and discard the solids.
- Cook the bacon in a large pot over medium-low heat, stirring often until it is crisp and rendered, about 15 minutes. Transfer with a slotted spoon to drain on paper towels.
- Increase the heat to medium. When the bacon fat begins to sizzle, stir in the celery, carrots, onions, and a pinch of salt. Cook, stirring often, until the vegetables are tender, about 8 minutes. Stir in the garlic, bay leaves, and thyme sprigs; cook, stirring, for 2 minutes.
- Stir in the tomatoes and cook, stirring often, for 20 minutes.
- Add the shrimp stock, potatoes, and salt. Simmer until the potatoes are almost done, about 15 minutes.
- Discard the bay leaves and thyme sprigs. Season with pepper and hot sauce. Taste for salt.
- Gently stir the fish into the stew. Arrange the shrimp over the top of the stew. Bring to a gentle simmer, cover the pot, and let cook until the fish and shrimp are barely opaque in the center, about 5 minutes.
- Spoon the muddle into serving bowls. Divide the eggs among the bowls. Sprinkle with the reserved bacon and parsley. Serve hot, alongside the grits and buttered saltines.
- from Sheri Castle