For the tomato confit: Preheat the oven to 220 degrees F. Combine the grape tomatoes, green tomato, red onion, garlic, bacon fat, olive oil, thyme, bay leaves, rosemary, sage and a pinch each of salt, pepper and sugar in a small casserole dish. Cover the casserole with foil and place it in the center oven rack. Let cook for at least 2 hours. Carefully remove the foil and inspect the confit: The grape tomatoes should be wilted, but not popped, and the red onions should be nice and brightly translucent. Discard the herb sprigs and bay leaves and keep the confit covered near the stove until ready to plate.
For the shrimp: Heat an 11-inch saute pan over medium-high heat. Season the shrimp with salt and pepper and keep dry. Warm the butter in the pan. In batches, sear the shrimp on both sides for 2 minutes in butter. Transfer the shrimp to a plate and keep warm. Reserve the pan and drippings for the spinach.
For the grits: Combine the cream, chicken broth, corn stock, butter, thyme and garlic in a 4-quart saucepan over medium-high heat and cook until boiling. Season the liquid lightly with salt. Slowly stir the grits into the liquid. Once all the grits are incorporated, turn the heat down to low and cook, stirring every minute or so, until cooked, about 10 minutes. You will know the grits are done when there's still a little texture, but the grains don't stick to your teeth. Finish with some cracked black pepper and cover until plating. If the grits become thick after standing, adding warm chicken stock will help to thin them.
For the shrimp creamed spinach: Heat the butter in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Add 2 cups of the reserved shrimp shells and sear until the shells are bright and release a nice shellfish aroma, 2 to 3 minutes. Add the Vidalia onion, bay leaf and 1 tablespoon of the garlic and cook an additional 2 minutes. Reduce the heat, add the cream and simmer until thickened and reduced slightly, 10 to 12 minutes. Strain through a mesh strainer and reserve.
Bring a medium pot half full of salted water to a boil. In the meantime, place a large bowl of ice water nearby. When the water is boiling, add the spinach and blanch for about 30 seconds. Use tongs and carefully remove the spinach to the ice water. Drain with a colander and set aside to let dry for a few minutes.
In the same pan used to sear the shrimp, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the spinach and cook until just beginning to wilt, 2 to 3 minutes. Add the remaining 1 tablespoon garlic and the shrimp cream and cook until the cream thickens.
For the bacon gastrique: Cook the bacon in a 2-quart saucepan over medium heat until almost crispy, about 10 minutes.
Add the onion and garlic and sweat lightly over medium heat until translucent. Add the brown sugar, Marsala, sherry wine and vinegar and cook until reduced, about 15 minutes, then taste. The gastrique should be rather on the thin side--chunky and sweet with a nice acidity and dark in color. Cover and keep warm until ready to plate.
To serve: Scoop about 1 cup grits each in the center of 4 entree bowls. Divide the cream spinach among the bowls, placing it in the middle, standing tall on the grits. Arrange 6 to 8 shrimp around the spinach in each bowl. Next, spoon the warm confit tomato on top of the cream spinach. Finish with a spoon of the smoked bacon gastrique around the edge of the bowl.
This recipe was provided by a chef, restaurant or culinary professional. It has not been tested for home use.
Recipe courtesy of Trey Hartinger, Marker 32 Restaurant, Jacksonville, FL