Sunday, February 28, 2010

Shrimp and Grits

Shrimp and grits is one of my favorite southern dishes.  In Gourmet magazine's last edition, a recipe for shrimp and polenta was posted in the Gourmet Everyday section.  I've been making a version of this dish often since then. It only takes about 20 mins from start to finish, perfect for a week night but the final result is worthy of a weekend meal.

1 lb shrimp - I use frozen (which are often much fresher than the "fresh" ones in the case as these have usually been frozen before they made it to the store) 21-30 count (which refers to a size class - how many shrimp of this size make up a pound)
4 oz of pancetta (Italian bacon) chopped
3 gloves of garlic, minced
1/4 - 1/2 teaspoon of crushed red pepper, depending on how much heat you like
1 14oz can chopped tomatoes - with juice
olive oil
2 tablespoons chopped flat leaf parsley

In a large skillet heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil at medium high. Add the pancetta and cook until crisp - about 5 minutes.  Add the garlic and crush red pepper to the cooked pancetta.  Cook for 1 minute, until the garlic is fragrant.  Then add the can of tomatoes and juice.  Cook this at medium heat for about 5 - 8 minutes or until most of the liquid has evaporated.  Finally, add the shrimp, cooking until just done, flipping once - about 2 minutes per side.

Finish with a sprinkling of fresh parsley and season with salt and pepper (probably won't need much salt, depending on how salty your pancetta is).


1 cup coarse ground corn meal (called grits or polenta - depending on the brand)
3 cups of water
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon butter
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Boil the water and salt in a saucepan over high heat.  Reduce heat to low - medium/low and whisk in the grits.  Use a wooden spoon and stir the grits frequently while they thicken and the water is absorbed.  I usually allow about 10 minutes of cooking time.  When the grits have reached your desired consistency, add the butter, cheese, and season with salt and pepper.  Beware - cooking the grits too long will create a gummy texture and they will all stick together in a blob.  Now this can be good if you want to shape it and grill it but that's not the point of this dish.

To serve - spoon a serving of grits onto your plate and top with the cooked shrimp and sauce.  I served it with a simple side of steamed broccoli.

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