Southern Accents: Chef Travis Peters has a shrimp and grits recipe for you

click to enlarge PHOTO BY ALEXANDRA PERE
Photo by Alexandra Pere

Opening a new restaurant during the pandemic is a risky business decision, but Chef Travis Gary Peters thrives on taking chances.

Peters recently opened a gastropub, The Delta, at 135 S. Sixth Ave., in the space formerly occupied by Janos Wilder’s DOWNTOWN Kitchen + Cocktails. Peters told Prickly Pair Podcast hosts Alexandra Pere and Nicole Feltman that The Delta is a chef-driven restaurant that reflects his vision, as well as the visions of co-owners Steve Dunn and Bryce Zeagler.

The restaurant is inspired by all things Southern, like New Orleans cuisine and Southwestern flavors, but don’t expect to find a standard gumbo. Everything on the menu is experimental with a dash of punk rock spirit.

“I think I’m gonna always sneak something in there, I think we’re pretty shocking for the Average Joe.” Peters said. “I think it’s fun, you know, as long as nobody says ‘I hate it,’ but it’s just not like my mom’s. I figure that’s a pretty good compliment.”

Peters wanted this location to diverge from his last successful restaurant, The Parish, a New Orleans-style restaurant highlighting classic deep south menu items like hush puppies and fried catfish. The Delta is a conglomeration of experimental flavors like monsoon oysters, queso birria burger and blackberry barbeque trout.

Prickly Pair hosts Pere and Feltman were specifically impressed with the cherry kool-aid pickles. Yep, you read that right. It’s a surprisingly delicious combination of sweet and spicy that leaves you wanting more.

The Delta’s hours are 4 p.m. to 10 p.m. Tuesday through Thursday and 4 p.m. to midnight Friday and Saturday. The restaurant is open Sundays from 4 p.m. to 9 p.m. Check out their website for more insight on the menu at thedeltatucson.com.

Make sure to check out Peter’s interview on the Prickly Pair Podcast, linked at the top of the online version of this article and available on all streaming platforms. Listeners, be sure to tag hosts Pere and Feltman on Instagram @pricklypairpodcast when trying the finished recipe!

Chef Travis Peters’ shrimp & white cheddar grits

Ingredients:

White cheddar grits

5 cups chicken stock

1 cup old fashioned grits (polenta can be substituted in a pinch, follow maker’s cooking instructions)

5 oz cubed unsalted butter

6 oz shredded white cheddar cheese

2 oz cream cheese

1 garlic clove pressed into paste, with salt

Kosher or sea salt

Fresh ground black pepper

Shrimp

large peeled & deveined shrimp (we like size 21-25), enough for everyone to get five or six

Your favorite brand of creole seasoning, as needed

2-3 tablespoons neutral oil

For sauce (optional)

2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce

1 cup heavy cream

Toasted seasoning (optional) -

Toasted sesame or everything bagel seasoning to taste

For the grits

• Crush the garlic, sprinkle with a little salt and work into a paste on a cutting board with your knife.

• Combine the garlic, butter, and low sodium chicken stock in medium sauce pan and bring to a boil.

• Once boiling, immediately reduce heat to low simmer and slowly whisk in the grits to avoid clumping then cover.

• Remove lid every few minutes and stir to keep from sticking. Continue until grits are tender but still have a little grit in the chew “al-grite”. About 20-30 minutes.

• Turn off heat, stir in cream cheese, then cheddar until fully incorporated.

• Taste finished grits & adjust seasoning with salt & pepper

For the shrimp (cook these directly after finishing grits)

• Season shrimp generously with creole seasoning

• Heat oil over medium heat in sauté pan until oil ripples

• Once the pan is hot, carefully add seasoned shrimp to oil and cook for about 45 seconds, flip shrimp & cook for another 45 seconds. (if not making sauce, continue cooking until shrimp are fully cooked, then serve)

• Add Worcestershire sauce to deglaze & reduce slightly for about 10 seconds, then add heavy cream, scraping bits off the bottom of the pan using a wooden spoon.

• Bring to a boil, then reduce to a medium high simmer and reduce by about 50% or until it coats the back of the spoon. Careful not to boil over!

• Immediately take off heat and serve.

To serve

Dividing evenly, scoop grits into bowls. Next add shrimp, then sauce and finally sprinkle with toasted seasoning of choice. Enjoy!

Correction: An earlier version of this recipe had an incorrect measurement of butter.
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