A Note from Barb

This recipe is similar to a fantastic dish of shrimp and grits I had in Charleston SC when we were visiting there years ago. We discovered some especially great heirloom grits ground in an ancient mill on our visit, we liked them so much that we had several varieties shipped home to Portland. Polenta can also be used for this recipe, they are just from different types of corn. This dish is true comfort food that is easy to make and very flavorful bringing back memories of charming Charleston. This dish can be found throughout the south as well, so you could experience this on one of our tours that visit the Southern US.

The Ingredients

To Make the Grits or Polenta

  • 1 cup Grits or Polenta
  • 4 cups water (or shrimp stock mentioned below)
  • 3 tbsp butter
  • 2 cups sharp cheddar cheese or cheese of your choice
  • salt and pepper

To Make the Shrimp

  • 1 lb shrimp, peeled and deveined (I prefer shrimp in the shell, as I use the shells for a quick stock to flavor the grits or polenta with)
  • 1 tbsp oil of your choice (I use the rendered bacon fat from cooking the bacon pieces but only if the bacon is uncured)
  • 2 large garlic cloves
  • ½ cup onion, minced
  • 4 tsp lemon juice
  • 2 tbsp parsley, chopped
  • ½ cup green onion, sliced

The Directions

Step 1. Make your mise en place (set up) before you start cooking
- Grate the cheese
- Shrimp peeled and deveined ( add shrimp shells to water and boil for about 10 - 15 minutes for a quick stock to cook the grits or polenta in )
- Bacon sliced and sautéed until all fat is rendered, drain on a paper towel
- Lemon juice at the ready
- Green onions and garlic chopped
- Parsley chopped, if using

Step 2. Bring the water/stock to a boil with the salt and pepper

Step 3. Add the grits and stir frequently
I use a whisk at first, then a wooden spoon once it starts to thicken. Keep heat at medium temperature. The cooking process will take about 25 – 30 minutes and you can tell it is done once all of the liquid is absorbed and it tastes soft. When the grits or polenta is done cooking, add the butter and the cheese, stir well to incorporate

Step 4. Shrimp stock
While you are cooking and stirring the polenta you can cook off the shrimp. Heat oil or the rendered bacon fat in a saute pan over medium heat, add the onion and garlic, stirring frequently so it does not scorch. Once the onion and garlic are soft, add the shrimp, turn up the heat a bit to medium-high and saute, moving the shrimp around the pan. The shrimp will only take a few minutes to cook. Once they are cooked, add the lemon juice and green onion and parsley if you have it, mix for a minute or two.

Step 5. Serve the shrimp on top of the polenta.

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