I love quintessential southern food. Fried chicken, biscuits and gravy and pecan pie are just a few of my favorites. One of the things I love most and that I enjoy making for myself is grits.
Unfortunately, it’s hard to find “real” grits in upstate New York. I consider real grits to be hominy grits which are usually made of white corn. It’s also very hard to find non-instant or quick cooking grits in these parts. They just don’t have the same texture. Then, one lucky day a few weeks ago, I stumbled upon Bob’s Red Mill Organic Corn Grits/Polenta. I had been told that they existed but, had not been able to find them at the grocery store. Clearly, it’s not exactly what I wanted. Real grits cannot be confused with polenta however, they are a big step above the quick cooking in a strange cardboard cylinder ones that you usually find. So, I took them home to make my shrimp and grits.
There are a few other key ingredients that you’ll need besides grits. One, of course, would be shrimp. I was able to find some shrimp in the seafood case of my local Hannaford and it was on sale. You’ll also need bacon which I suggest purchasing from the meat case at your grocery store, too. It was a lot less expensive and way better than buying the packaged goods. The rest of the ingredients are simple and many of them you many have in your refrigerator or pantry already.
2 cups of water
2 cups of whole milk
1 cup of grits
4 tablespoons butter, cut into 1 tablespoon pieces
8 oz of cheese, shredded
1 pound of shrimp, peeled and devained
6 slices of bacon, chopped
2 shallots, minced
2 – 4 cloves garlic, minced (depending on your preference)
1/4 of a fresh lemon
Pinch of oregano
Ground Black Pepper
Start by peeling and devaining your shrimp if it hasn’t already been done by the store. Toss them in a colander and give them a good rinse and then pat them dry with a paper towel.
Mix your milk and water together in a medium size pot and then set it over medium heat until it starts to boil. Add a good pinch of salt and pepper and then pour in your grits. Cook until all the liquid is absorbed, whisking and stirring frequently. Once the grits are cooked, stir in your butter and cheese.
Fry your bacon in a large skillet until it reaches your desired level of crispness. Use a slotted spoon to remove the bacon pieces to a paper towel to drain. Add the shrimp to the reserved bacon grease and cook until the shrimp just turn pink. Remove the shrimp and add it to your bacon that is draining. Add your shallots and garlic to the pan and saute until slightly transparent. Add the bacon and shrimp back to the skillet with your oregano, a pinch of salt and a pinch of pepper and saute for 1 – 2 minutes watching the shrimp closely so it doesn’t over cook. Taste for seasoning and adjust as necessary.
To plate your shrimp and grits, pour a laddle of grits into a wide bowl and use a small spoon to hollow out a circle in the middle of the grits. Spoon the shrimp mixture into the hollowed out area and Voila! You have shrimp and grits.
Side note/Tip: Your grits should be “flowing” – not watery but, not thick either. If they seem to seize up a bit (like mine are in the picture), you can stir in a little more milk prior to serving. This may mean you want to add a bit more salt and pepper, too. It’s also great tip for reheating them as leftovers. Sometimes I think they’re even better the next day.