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Britney Spears is partial to Velveeta

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Britney Spears might not like this recipe for cheese grits.

We learned from last night’s MTV documentary ‘Britney: For the Record’ that the former pop tart -- in the midst of a hoped-for comeback as her new album, ‘Circus,’ is about to hit stores tomorrow -- prefers Velveeta with her hominy. Can’t really blame her, right?

C’mon, you know you eat Velveeta when no one is looking! At least Brit Brit admits it! Unfortunately, we couldn’t find a recipe in our archives for Velveeta-infused grits. (If you have one, please send it to us, along with all your other favorite ways to enjoy Velveeta.)

But we did come across the next closest thing: A recipe for shrimp and cheese grits that was requested by a celebrity....

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October 06, 2004

CULINARY SOS
Delicious three-part hominy

Dear SOS: Please see if you can get a recipe for shrimp and grits at Jack Fry’s restaurant in Louisville, Ky. It is one of the best things I’ve eaten.

Michelle Phillips, Cheviot Hills

We wondered if this letter could be from the Michelle Phillips of the Mamas and the Papas fame, so we called the writer and learned that it was indeed the actress-singer looking for a recipe. Phillips, it turns out, is also a skilled cook who can usually detect what’s in a restaurant dish and re-create it at home.

She loved the shrimp and grits she tried at Fry’s, but couldn’t figure out the recipe. ‘It doesn’t sound like much, but I tell you, it is so delicious,’ she says.

Chef Shawn Ward’s recipe calls for cooking the shrimp in red-eye gravy made with Madeira, shiitake mushrooms and fresh thyme, and serving them on creamy grits enriched with Parmigiano-Reggiano.

Because the Kentucky country ham Ward uses is hard to find, we substituted Virginia ham, which is available at Bristol Farms and 99 Ranch markets.

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Total time: 1 hour

Servings: 6

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Red-eye gravy

2 tablespoons unsalted butter

3 ounces Kentucky country ham, minced (substitute Virginia ham)

1/2 cup julienned onion

1/4 cup julienned green bell pepper

1/2 cup fresh shiitake mushrooms, sliced

1 tablespoon fresh thyme, minced

1/4 cup Madeira wine

1/2 cup brewed coffee

1 cup chicken broth

1 medium tomato, peeled, seeded and chopped

1 teaspoon cornstarch mixed with 1 teaspoon water

1. Melt the butter in a large saute pan over medium-high heat. Add the ham and cook until browned, about 5 minutes. Add the onion, green pepper, mushrooms and thyme, and cook until the onion is translucent, about 5 minutes.

2. Add the Madeira, coffee, chicken broth and tomato and bring to a light boil. Stir in the cornstarch mixture. Reduce the heat and simmer the sauce until it reduces by one-third, about 10 minutes.

Grits

2 cups milk

1/2 cup whipping cream

1 tablespoon unsalted butter

1/2 cup stone-ground grits

1/2 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese

1 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon pepper

1. In a saucepan, combine the milk, cream and butter. Bring to a light simmer. Slowly stir in the grits, reduce the heat to low and stir frequently until the grits are thick and creamy, about 10 minutes.

2. Stir in the cheese and the salt and pepper to taste. Keep warm.

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Assembly

2 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided

18 large shrimp, peeled and deveined

1/4 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese

3 tablespoons chopped chives

1. Heat 1 tablespoon butter in another large saute pan. Add the shrimp and cook until pink, about 3 minutes.

2. Add the red-eye gravy. Add the remaining butter and stir to incorporate.

3. To serve, divide the warm grits among 6 plates and top with the shrimp and gravy. Garnish with the cheese and chives.

Each serving: 387 calories; 17 grams protein; 21 grams carbohydrates; 1 gram fiber; 24 grams fat; 14 grams saturated fat; 115 mg. cholesterol; 724 mg. sodium.

Photo: The shrimp is cooked in a red-eye gravy and served on cheese grits. But sorry, Britney! There’s no Velveeta in this recipe. Credit: Mel Melcon / Los Angeles Times


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