Redfish "on the Half Shell" with Creamy Grits

Redfish on the Half Shell with Creamy Grits
Redfish "on the Half Shell" with Creamy GritsChristina Holmes

Chef Justin Devillier of La Petite Grocery learned this popular Louisiana fish camp technique—cooking "on the half shell"—after moving to New Orleans from California. Grilling fish skin-side-down with its scales still attached protects the tender meat from ripping and insulates it slightly from the heat, resulting in perfectly tender flesh.

Featured in: The Hunter's Table

Redfish "on the Half Shell" with Creamy Grits
Grilling fish skin-side-down with scales still attached protects the delicate meat and insulates it from the heat, resulting in perfectly tender flesh.
Yield: serves 8
Time: 1 hour, 45 minutes

Ingredients

  • 2 bunches scallions (9 oz.), green and white parts separated
  • 3 sticks unsalted butter, softened
  • 2 12 tbsp. fresh lemon juice
  • 1 12 tbsp. colatura di alici (anchovy syrup)
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 4 cups whole milk
  • 4 cups water
  • 1 12 cups coarse-ground grits (not instant)
  • 8 redfish or red snapper fillets, with skin and scales still attached (8 to 10 oz. each)

Instructions

  1. Light a grill and set it up for direct and indirect grilling. On a cutting board, thinly slice the scallion greens and place in a bowl. Place the scallion whites over direct heat on the grill and cook, turning, until charred and soft, about 5 minutes. Transfer the whites to the board and let cool completely. Finely chop the whites and add to the bowl with the greens along with 2 sticks butter, the lemon juice, colatura di alici, and garlic. Season with salt and pepper and mix the scallion butter until evenly combined.
  2. In a large saucepan, combine the milk and water and bring to a boil. While whisking, slowly pour the grits into the milk and cook, stirring constantly, until the grits are tender, about 1 hour and 15 minutes. Stir in the remaining stick of butter, season with salt, and remove the pan from the heat.
  3. Season the redfish with salt and pepper and place over direct heat on the grill, skin side down, and cook for 3 minutes. Without flipping, move the fillets to indirect heat and brush each with 2 tablespoons of the scallion butter. Close the grill and cook the fillets until cooked through, about 10 minutes. To serve, scrape the grits into a serving bowl, remove the skin from each fillet, and serve the fish alongside the grits.