Thursday, December 30, 2010

Shrimp and Grits

I am not sure what came over me last night as I was thinking about what to make for dinner. Usually I am pretty good about planning meals for the week on the weekend and then grocery shopping for everything I need, so that I am not constantly running to the store. However this week I was too tired after getting back from vacation on Sunday to even think about meals for the week. I decided yesterday that I wanted to go to the store for some fish (we have needed some light, healthy meals after last week's delicious feasts!). Somehow-this is the part I am unsure of what happened- I started thinking about grits. I have never really eaten grits. We never had them in our house growing up. I may have tasted a spoonful once or twice at Cracker Barrel, but otherwise I have very little experience with this starch. I do remember several months ago reading a recipe from the Pioneer Woman about creamy grits that sounded and looked delicious. So maybe that's why they chose to come to mind yesterday. Anyways, at the store frozen shrimp were on sale (sorry no fresh shrimp on sale in frozen North Dakota) and I decided to go with shrimp and grits for dinner. I took some inspiration from this recipe and improvised as needed according to what I had at home. I did use bacon which added a nice smoky flavor profile, but it would not be necessary if you prefer not to use it. The nice thing about this recipe is that you can adjust the heat to your taste. I found my first real taste of grits to be pretty good and this will be a recipe I will come back to. It was the perfect warm meal for a cold winter's night. Enjoy!

Shrimp and Creamy Grits
Serves 2

1/2 pound fresh or frozen jumbo shrimp, thawed and tails removed
2 slices, uncured bacon (optional)
1 can diced tomatoes
1/2 small onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp dried basil or handful of fresh basil
1 tsp Old Bay seasoning
1/4 tsp Cayenne pepper
hot sauce, optional
1/4-1/2 cup chicken broth

2 1/4 cup water
1/2 cup grits
1 tbsp butter
1 oz of Monterey Jack cheese, sharp cheddar cheese, or Mexican cheese blend, shredded

1. Cook the bacon until browned and then drain on paper towels.
2. Remove excess oil from the pan and add onion and garlic. Cook for several minutes until soft and fragrant.
3. Add diced tomatoes, spices and hot sauce to taste. Cook for several minutes.
4. If too much of the liquid cooks out, add chicken broth. Crumble bacon and add to sauce.
5. Add shrimp and cook for about 3-5 minutes. Taste sauce and add seasonings as desired. Serve over creamy grits.

Creamy Grits
1. Bring water to boil and slowly add grits. Cook according to package directions (quick cooking vs. regular grits)
2. When grits are thick and cooked, add butter, cheese, salt and pepper. Stir until butter and cheese are melted. Sprinkle with paprika.

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