Occasionally, when Husband and I have late meetings or other obligations, we ask my parents to stop in and feed our cats. My folks only live a couple of miles away, so this is not terribly inconvenient (and elderly, retired parents, at least mine, want to be helpful and/or useful as often as possible). One of the last times they did this for us, my mom left a huge bag of leftover shrimp in our refrigerator. It was cocktail shrimp, left (frozen) from her last several parties. She didn’t really know what to do with it, and she figured I could put it to good use. She was right! This recipe was in a folder, torn from Health Magazine, January/February 2014.
Shrimp and Grits
- Prep Time: 12 minutes
- Cook Time: 40 minutes
- Yield: Serves: 4
- 1 cup whole milk
- Salt and pepper
- 1 cup yellow whole-grain cornmeal
- 2 strips bacon
- 2 red and/or orange bell peppers, seeded and sliced
- 4 scallions, thinly sliced
- 1 pound medium shrimp, peeled and deveined
- 1 teaspoon hot cayenne pepper sauce
- 1/4 cup grated Parmesan
1. Make grits: In a large pan, bring milk, 3 cups water and 1/4 teaspoon salt to a boil. Add cornmeal in a steady stream, whisking, until no lumps are visible. Cover, reduce heat to low and simmer, stirring and scraping pan every 10 minutes, until tender, 35 minutes. Uncover; cook 5 minutes longer, stirring.
2. While grits cook, fry bacon in a large skillet over medium heat, turning, until crisp, 5 to 6 minutes. Drain on paper towels. Let cool; crumble.
3. Add bell peppers, white parts of scallions, 1/8 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper to skillet with bacon fat. Sauté until bell peppers are crisp-tender, 7 minutes. Stir in shrimp, pepper sauce and 1/2 cup water. Sauté until shrimp turn almost opaque, 3 minutes. Remove from heat.
4. Remove grits from heat; stir in cheese. Divide among 4 bowls; top with shrimp mixture. Garnish with bacon and scallion greens.
I omitted the bacon (lazy? health conscious? You decide.) and used olive oil to cook the veggies. For the flavor, I substituted a soy bacon spice blend from one of those party companies– I think I used a tablespoon. I used yellow and orange peppers, which didn’t do much for color contrast, but the green onion livened it up a little in that respect. I also used 1 percent milk for the grits. It was just fine– maybe not as rich and creamy as whole milk would have made them, but again, calories begone! The grits were ready in about 20 minutes, so watch them carefully. Since my shrimp were already cooked, the sauté went very quickly, and this was on the table in seemingly no time at all.
Verdict: a hit! This dish was spicy from the hot sauce and crunchy from the veggies. It easily could have taken more hot sauce depending on your tolerance for heat, and you could go in different directions with your choice of sauce– smoky, sweet, peppery. I think I would have taken the tails off the shrimp before I added them to the pan, because it was a little annoying to have to remove the tails while eating. Overall, this dish is worth another go round! We enjoyed it thoroughly, and it reheated well.