2 cups whole milk
2 teaspoons salt
1/4 cup butter
2 cups yellow stone-ground grits
3/4 cup thinly sliced leek
1 tablespoon butter, plus 3 tablespoons melted butter
1 tablespoon chili powder
1 tablespoon paprika
1 1/2 teaspoons dried basil
2 1/4 teaspoons dried oregano
1 1/2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
1 1/2 teaspoons seasoning salt
1 1/2 teaspoons dried thyme
1/4 teaspoon granulated garlic
Pinch seafood seasoning, such as Old Bay
1 1/2 cups clam juice
1 1/2 cups tomato juice
1 cup half-and-half
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
2 ounces finely diced tasso ham
2 pounds small shrimp, shelled and deveined
2 tablespoons butter
For the grits: Bring the milk, salt, butter and 6 cups water to a boil over medium heat in a heavy-bottomed pot. Slowly pour in the grits, stirring constantly. Reduce the heat and continue to stir for several minutes to make sure the grits do not scorch. Continue to cook the grits for about 20 to 25 minutes, stirring frequently. Keep warm until ready to serve. If they become too thick, add warm water or milk to thin.
For the tasso gravy: Cook the leeks in 1 tablespoon butter in a medium saucepan until soft. Add the chili powder, paprika, basil, oregano, black pepper, seasoning salt, thyme, garlic and seafood seasoning, stirring to release the flavors. Add the clam juice and tomato juice and simmer for 10 minutes. Add the half-and-half and simmer for 10 minutes. Make a roux with the flour and the 3 tablespoons melted butter in a small bowl. Slowly add it to the gravy mixture, stirring vigorously. Keep stirring until the mixture thickens. Remove from heat and add ham.
For the shrimp: Saute the shrimp in the butter in a large saute pan until they start to turn pink. Add the tasso gravy and simmer for 1 to 2 minutes.
To serve: Top each plate with some grits and spoon the shrimp and tasso gravy over the top. Serve immediately.
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