I’m a Southern gal, and I was raised on grits. I love ’em! I think most of the grit-haters probably tried them for the first time on a lark at a restaurant as a side to breakfast. What they don’t know is that restaurants serve grits absolutely plain, with no seasoning whatsoever. No wonder the haters don’t like them. Grits need to be seasoned, first of all. They need salt. That’s a start. I love mine with lots of butter. And cheese. And bacon. And…okay, I’ll stop there. I like to convert grit-haters, and here’s a prime example of a take-off on the Southern favorite, shrimp and grits. The grits are seasoned not only with salt, of course, but also Old Bay seafood seasoning to complement the shrimp. The grits also get a dose of chopped shrimp, sun-dried tomatoes, and two cheeses, then are topped with seasoned broiled shrimp. It’s a party in your mouth. Get some!
Shrimp and Grits Recipe
1-1/2 pounds jumbo (31-40 count) frozen shrimp, thawed and peeled
2 teaspoons Old Bay seasoning (or similar seafood seasoning mix)
Grated zest (about 1 Tablespoon) of 1 lemon (use a microplane)
3 cups water
1 cup heavy cream or whole milk
1/2 cup chopped sun-dried tomatoes (in the pouch, not packed in oil – see Notes)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon Old Bay seasoning
1 cup yellow or white grits or coarse-ground cornmeal (do not use instant grits or fine-ground cornmeal)
3 Tablespoons butter
1 cup fine-shredded extra-sharp Cheddar cheese
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 cup sliced green onions (scallions), including green parts, plus additional for garnish
2 Tablespoons melted butter (for broiling the shrimp)
Lemon wedges for garnish, optional
Place 10 to 12 of the raw, peeled shrimp in the bowl of a food processor. Pulse into bits about 1/4-inch in size. You’ll need about 1/2 cup. Set aside.
Place remaining peeled, raw shrimp in a zip-top bag. Add 2 teaspoons of Old Bay seasoning and the grated lemon zest. Seal the bag and toss so that all of the shrimp is coated.
Make the grits: In a large, deep saucepan over medium heat, bring water, heavy cream, sun-dried tomatoes, salt, and 1/2 teaspoon Old Bay seasoning to a boil. Very, very, slowly whisk in grits and continue to whisk until they return to a boil.
Cover with a lid, reduce heat to low, and cook, stirring every 4 to 5 minutes to avoid lumps, for 20 to 25 minutes until grits are tender. Remove from heat and stir in butter, Cheddar cheese, and Parmesan cheese. When the cheese has melted, taste and add salt, if needed. The grits should be pretty thick. If you like them thinner, add a little more cream.
Let the grits rest for 5 minutes, then stir in the 1/2 cup reserved chopped shrimp and chives. The residual heat will cook the shrimp.
Make the shrimp: While the grits are resting, preheat the broiler. Line a 10- by 15-inch jelly roll pan with non-stick foil. Brush the foil with 2 Tablespoons melted butter. Spread the seasoned shrimp in a single layer, then flip each one over so they have a coating of butter. Broil 6 inches from the heating element for about 3 to 5 minutes, until shrimp is opaque. Watch them closely. Do not over-cook or shrimp will become tough and rubbery.
Serve the broiled shrimp over the grits. Top with sliced green onions and lemon wedges to serve.
Yield: 4 servings
• You may use oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes. You will need to press them between paper towels to remove the oil. The soft, dry ones in the pouch are easier to work with and won’t add too much moisture to the grits. I pulse the tomatoes in the food processor.
• Chopped chives may be substituted for the green onions.