Shrimp, Grits, Okra, and a White Apron

Posted on - June 12, 2016 / Author - Tanorria Askew / Category - Love Deeply

How in the world does a girl who hates competition, is terrified of taking risks, and has let her fears determine her destiny win a white apron on the largest cooking competition in America?  Focus—that’s how.  My eyes were fixed on far more than just a white apron.  I had a task at hand, and there was nothing that was going to stop me from completing that task.  I was NOT going home.  Walking away without a white apron was not an option.  I didn’t even consider what it would look like if I did.

You see, I don’t consider myself a risk taker.  I am a perfectionist, and that requires me to take very little risk and ensure that everything is calculated.  That is the only way to have perfection.  But what I have learned is that there is no way possible to follow your dreams by living a life of a perfectionist.  Consider my shrimp and grits, on MasterChef.  While I was making that amazing dish, I was thinking of all of the things I could be doing differently.  “Was that too much salt?”  “Wait, add the shrimp now.  No, give it a little more time to develop.”  “Oh no!  Am I going to have enough time to fry to okra?”  I was also thinking about my Grandmother telling me to add just a little more butter.  I took a risk, and boy did it pay off!


When you are standing in front of Gordon Ramsay and Christina Tosi, you have no idea what they may or may not say about your food, but what they said—the words they used to describe my dish, there is no way possible I would’ve ever received those kinds of compliments without risking it all to compete on MasterChef.  Hearing that my shrimp & grits will go down in history as the best on MasterChef is the absolute best thing I’ve ever heard about anything I have made, and I’ve heard some amazing compliments about my cooking!  In that moment, it’s like all of my hopes and dreams to feed the world became possible. I am among the Top 20 BEST Home Cooks in America!  That, my friend, is no small feat.  The reward far outweighed the big scary risk.

I am moved and honored by all of the MasterChef Top 40.  Neco, Shawn, and Brittany are all so talented.   To cook among them was absolutely amazing, and to go on this journey with the 20 that are left is priceless.  They are ALL so incredibly talented and passionate.  I have never found myself in a room full of people who love to talk about food as much as I do!  This is going to be a wild and crazy ride, but I am so glad that I get to journey it with them!  More often than not I will have to remind myself that without risk, there is no reward.

So when you are as afraid as I was to take just about any risk in your life, remember this.  Don’t focus on the fear.  Fix your eyes on the task.  Don’t focus on those around you.  Fix your eyes on the One who is always with you.  Don’t focus on your failures.  Fix your eyes on possibilities.  “You will keep in perfect peace all who trusts in you, all whose thoughts are fixed on you!” (Isaiah 26:3 NLT)


Please try this recipe.  I hope you love it as much as I do.  Reach out to me on the interwebs and tell me all about it.  Make sure to hashtag #teamtanorria and #masterchef  Most importantly, keep loving deeply, laughing often, and eating really well, my friends.  This is just the beginning!

Tanorria’s MasterChef Shrimp and Grits


1 1/2 c Polenta
1 c Milk
3 c Chicken Stock

1/2 c Butter
1 Tb Salt
1/2 c Heavy Cream


1 Tbs Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1/2 lb Andouille, sliced
1/2 c Green Bell Pepper, chopped
1/2 c Red Bell Pepper, chopped
1/4 c Onion, chopped
2 cloves Garlic minced
1 lb 21/30 ct Shrimp, peeled and deveined (tail on optional) 1 Tbs Old Bay Seasoning
1/2 tsp smoked paprika
1 Lemon, tested and juiced
1 c Chicken Stock or White Wine
1/4 c Heavy Cream
3 Tbs chives


Okra, sliced
1 c Buttermilk
1 c Cornmeal
1 c AP Flour
1/4 c Corn Starch Canola Oil

Heat medium pot to high heat. Add chicken stock, milk, salt and butter. Let come to a boil. Quickly whisk in polenta and reduce the heat to low. Let simmer until thick while stirring occasionally. Finish with heavy cream.

While polenta is simmering, heat skillet to medium heat. Cut andouille and add to skillet. While Andouille is browning, cut peppers, garlic, onions, and chives. Remove Andouille from skillet with a slotted spoon. Add peppers, onions, and garlic to the same skillet. Sauté for 1-2 minutes, then season with old bay and smoked paprika. Cook for another 1-2 minutes, then squeeze in lemon juice. Pour in chicken stock and let simmer 2-3 minutes. Add heavy cream, then add shrimp and cook until it is just starting to turn pink.

In a medium pot, add canola oil and heat to medium-high heat.

Soak Okra in buttermilk for 1 minute. Remove from buttermilk and drain slightly. Coat with cornmeal mixture. Shake off excess cornmeal and place okra into the hot oil. Cook until browned and remove from heat with a slotted spoon. Season with salt

Garnish completed dish with chives.

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Comments 23 comments to this post

July 6, 2016 at 8:50 am / Lorie Ingram / Write:

Would like to get your shrimp & grits recipe. thanks

July 6, 2016 at 12:35 pm / Tanorria Askew / Write:

Hi Lorie! The recipe is posted above on this post. I can’t wait to hear how you like it!

July 25, 2016 at 12:49 pm / karen torres / Write:

Hi. Can’t wait to try shrimp and grits-why do you use polenta? Is it because it is less coarse? Also my husband does not do chicken in any shape size or form-do you think vegetable broth will do?

August 5, 2016 at 4:35 pm / Tanorria Askew / Write:

Hello! Yes! You can totally do vegetable stock. You could also do seafood stock. I think I’d prefer seafood stock. Try to go with stock over broth. Just adds more flavor. I hope you love it!

September 7, 2016 at 10:09 pm / Mark / Write:

Just watched you get knocked off the show because your partner under cooked the dick. That is life and don’t think another second about it.

My wife loves shrimp and grits and I missed the episode when you made it. I plan to try to surprise her. Good luck to me since I’m your average guy cook.

You are a good person and I know your destiny is going to be great. Don’t be emotional and stay out of your mind that will betray your brain.

September 7, 2016 at 10:12 pm / Eric K Blackwell / Write:

Finally someone who can cook Shrimp and Grits! I have spanned the globe in search of the best shrimp and grits. Just had some down in Louisiana and for some reason, they just didnt get it right. I would have hoped it was prepared in some type of Roux. Like you might find in a gumbo. But none. Your recipe is simple and tasety. Thanks for sharing it. Bon Appétit.

September 9, 2016 at 11:51 pm / carol / Write:

I was so disappointed when David beat you out.I think you should have been in the top 3 in my opinion(I know everyone has one)I feel he should have been gone already.he loses his temper easily and acts very childish I’m not sure how he. Really expect s to run a kitchen in a five star restaurant I know you will go far. God bless you and always remember “Take Care Of You “very wise words from a very wise lady. My big sister

September 18, 2016 at 12:41 pm / Tammy / Write:

I made this last night and it was divine !!! I wasn’t sure if I would like the fried okra but it was incredibly crunchy and delicious 😍

September 25, 2016 at 9:10 pm / Pat Moredock / Write:

Made your shrimp and grits tonight. Liked thepolenta over grits. A nice, finer texture than grits. It took a lot more liquid to get the consistency right. I wasn’t sure when to toss the sausage back in. So I did it at the end. It was scrumptuous! Way to go, Tanorria!

October 19, 2016 at 3:18 pm / Larry / Write:

Thanks for sharing this Tanorria! I made it last night and substituted Tender Belly Habanero Bacon for the Andouille. Awesome flavor profile that’s WHO DAT worthy! Now… off to the gym for 8 hours to burn the calories off… 😀

October 26, 2016 at 6:43 pm / Dee Brodie / Write:

I have never had shrimp and grits before. I gave your recipe a whirl. It was delicious!
The only problem I had was with the grits. I bought regular grits and when I added everything the grits thickened up right away. I covered them, there was no way they were gona cook 20 min, 5 at tops. I looked at the grit container and for 3 cups of grits it says I should have used way more liquid. What did I do wrong? We will mark this recipe a keeper! Thank you

December 1, 2016 at 1:02 pm / Kelsey Henderson / Write:

I am cooking this recipe Sunday! Can’t wait!

December 4, 2016 at 9:03 pm / Tanorria Askew / Write:

I’d love to hear how it turned out!

January 8, 2017 at 10:30 am / Annie Erskine / Write:

My wife and I are going to try cooking this on Wednesday 😀 Super excited!

January 8, 2017 at 4:04 pm / Tanorria Askew / Write:

Let me know how you like it! Enjoy!

February 7, 2017 at 1:40 pm / Whitney / Write:

Hi Tanorria! I’m looking forward to trying this recipe this weekend but I want to use grits. I am from the southern woods of GA and we LOVE grits. I’ve never tried polenta before and prefer to try it for myself first as I am cooking for others who haven’t had it before either. Would using grits instead of polenta greatly alter the taste and texture of the recipe?

February 7, 2017 at 1:47 pm / Tanorria Askew / Write:

Feel free to use grits! It will be just as delicious! I have used them before. You may need a bit more cream or stock, but it will taste amazing regardless!

April 5, 2017 at 6:11 pm / Teadra / Write:

Just found your website. I think it is fantastic. Will follow along.

April 7, 2017 at 10:16 am / Tanorria Askew / Write:

Thank you so much!

May 22, 2017 at 4:11 pm / Ellisa / Write:

Hey there! Just wanted to let you know that I am just getting around to Master Chef Season 7 and HAD to have your recipe for your Shrimp & Grits! You blew ALL of the others out of the water, girl! And I support your business because I am an aspiring chef who’s full of fear right now. But hopefully one day, I’ll get over that! I’m so happy for you and your accomplishments! Keep it up!

June 3, 2017 at 10:40 am / Tanorria Askew / Write:

Thank you so much for watching! It was a journey of a life time. Please keep cooking and do whatever it takes to fight those fears! Always remember YOU ARE ENOUGH to accomplish your dreams! Happy Cooking!

June 15, 2017 at 9:30 pm / Dee Brodie / Write:

Please see my October post, I tried making this , followed the recipe and used grits. My grits thickened almost asap. What did I do wrong. Please respond, would love to make this again correctly.

January 31, 2019 at 1:41 pm / Ricca / Write:

I loved reading your story and I can’t wait to try this recipe!

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