I love grits, as you may remember from this post. Every now and then I get a craving for them, and the grits craving hit me very hard just recently. I must have seen something or read something about shrimp and grits because, for a solid week, I could not get them off my mind.
For the grits, I adapted my favorite recipe from Gourmet. Instead of whole milk and heavy cream, I lightened things up a bit with low-fat milk and half-and-half. Honestly, I’m not sure I would notice the difference. Okay, maybe I would. But, in the name of Eating Healthier, I’m sticking with my lower-fat version. Also, I don’t add cheese to my grits, but you could if cheese grits float your boat.
The shrimp were local, caught in the Atlantic off the St. Augustine coast and sold by our local fish market. After shelling and deveining them, the shrimp were sauteed in rendered bacon fat and other goodness.
The cooked bacon crumbles and some sliced green onions were sprinkled on the top of the dish prior to serving. The combination of the creamy grits, the tender shrimp, and the smokiness of the bacon was just mouthwatering.
Shrimp and Grits
Yield: Serves 4.
Ingredients for the grits:
2 cups water
2 cups 1% low-fat milk
1 cup white stone-ground grits
1/4 cup half-and-half
1/4 stick unsalted butter, cut into pieces
1 teaspoon kosher salt
Ingredients for the shrimp:
4 slices bacon, cut into 1/2- inch pieces
2 tablespoons pure olive oil
3/4 pound shrimp, shelled and deveined
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
pinch of crushed red pepper
1 teaspoon fresh thyme
salt and freshly ground pepper
3 green onions, thinly sliced, for garnish
Prepare the grits:
Bring water and milk just to a simmer in a 4- to 5- quart heavy saucepan. Meanwhile, cover grits with water in a large bowl and whisk vigorously. Let the grits stand for 30 minutes then skim off any chaff that has floated to the top. Drain grits well in a fine-mesh sieve and whisk into the simmering milk mixture.
Reduce heat to low and simmer grits, partially covered, stirring often with a heatproof rubber spatula until the grits are tender and thickened to the consistency of loose oatmeal, approximately 1 1/4 hours. Stir more towards the end of cooking. If the grits thicken before they are tender and creamy, add 1/4 to 1/2 cup hot water to thin the grits.
Stir in cream, butter, and salt. Remove from heat and keep warm, covered, until ready to serve.
Prepare the shrimp:
Place bacon in a medium skillet over medium heat and cook until golden brown and crisp and the fat has rendered. Remove bacon with a slotted spoon and transfer to a paper-towel lined plate.
Remove all but 2 tablespoons of bacon fat from the skillet and place back on heat. Add olive oil and increase the heat to high. Season the shrimp with salt and pepper. Add shrimp to the pan with garlic, thyme, and crushed red pepper. Saute until golden brown on both sides and just cooked through, 1-2 minutes per side. Remove shrimp to a plate. Pour the garlic oil from the skillet through a fine-mesh strainer, and reserve the oil to drizzle over the finished dish.
Divide the grits among 4 bowls and top each with some of the shrimp. Drizzle the top with the reserved bacon-garlic oil, and sprinkle some of the cooked bacon bits and sliced green onion over the top.