Spicy Shrimp and Grits

Yes, grits!  Don’t run away!  If you’ve never had them before, I think you’re going to like them.  I LOVE THEM.  If midwestern comfort food is mashed potatoes, then southern comfort food has got to be grits.

I grew up in Minnesota and never had grits until I landed at Winthrop in 1987.  The college cafeteria is really a lousy place to try grits for the first time, even if said college happens to be in South Carolina, because plain cafeteria grits have the look, taste, and texture of wallpaper paste: bland and boring.  My opinion changed when I went home with a friend from Atlanta for a weekend, and her momma fixed ’em up right:  she stirred in half a stick of butter, and handfuls of crispy bacon bits and shredded cheese.  With a side of scrambled eggs, are you kidding me?!  That weekend in Atlanta introduced me to my favorite breakfast of all time.

It really was no small wonder my button fly GUESS jeans didn’t fit long into sophomore year.

I still love grits for breakfast, of course.  But shrimp and grits are also about the most delicious thing you’ll ever eat.  I have two recipes that I love – one comes from a restaurant called The Boathouse on the Isle of Palms.  It’s to die for, but I only bring it out on special occasions.  Like when I’m entertaining in the dead of winter and everyone’s wearing big sweaters and it feels perfectly acceptable to serve a sauce whose main ingredient is two cups of whipping cream.  Remind me in January, I’ll make it for you.

In the interest of swimsuit season and keeping things quick and easy for summer, I make today’s recipe when I need a fix.  It comes from Cooking Light and I’ve been making it since I first saw the recipe in 2010.  I’m not sure why I’ve never brought it out before now.

Maybe I had to make sure you really liked me before I hit you with a recipe for grits.

Serves 4
Source:  cookinglight.com

3 c. 1% milk
1 c. water
1 T. butter
1/2 t. salt, divided
1/4 t. black pepper, divided
1 c. uncooked quick-cooking grits**
1/2 c. grated Parmesan cheese
4 slices applewood-smoked bacon
1 lb. peeled, deveined large raw shrimp (these are on sale this week, 7/6/11 – 7/12/11)
1 c. thinly vertically sliced white onion
2 c. grape tomatoes, halved (on sale this week, 7/6/11 – 7/12/11)
1 t. Tabasco sauce
1/8 t. cayenne pepper
1/4 c. scallion strips for garnish

Combine milk, water, butter, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and 1/8 teaspoon black pepper in a saucepan over medium high heat.  Bring to a simmer; gradually add grits, stirring constantly with a whisk.  Reduce heat to medium, cook 4 minutes or until thick, stirring occasionally.  Remove from heat; stir in cheese.

While grits cook, cook bacon in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat until crisp.  Remove bacon from pan, discarding all but 2 teaspoons of drippings; crumble bacon.  Add shrimp to remaining 2 teaspoons of drippings in pan; cook 2 minutes on each side or until done.  Remove shrimp to a plate.  Add white onion to pan; saute 1 minute.  Stir in bacon, tomatoes, remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt, and remaining 1/8 teaspoon black pepper; saute 2 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Add shrimp, Tabasco, and cayenne; cook 1 minute or until shrimp are heated through.  Serve over grits; garnish with scallion strips.

** You’ll find them in the cereal aisle, right next to the oatmeal on the bottom shelf.  :-)

Featured, Fresh, Frugal, Fabulous | July 9th, 2011