Shrimp and Grits – Can You Say Comfort Food?
Shrimp and grits is way up there on the comfort food scale. We all know what those days are like – helping parents, helping kids, sandwiched in the middle trying to make time for yourself. Well, I was inspired after watching a Bobby Flay Throwdown against a shrimp and grits king to make it for dinner. Couldn’t you just dig into this?!I think a proper preparation all starts with bacon, and fortunately I had that ridiculously good, all natural, no nitrates bacon I had gotten from a local producer. Cut it into a dice and fry it up crisp, then fish it out of the pan and keep most of the bacon drippings in the pan.
…and some peeled and deveined shrimp. Toss the shrimp with seasonings – I used a combination that the southern guy suggested on the Throwdown show, paprika, oregano, basil, salt and pepper (one of the rare times I’ve used dried herbs you’ll note).Next, cook the polenta so it’s ready when the shrimp come out of the pan. Bring chicken stock to a boil, stir in the polenta, and whisk like crazy until it thickens. I used instant polenta so that I’d have a creamier texture for this, but you can use regular long cooking polenta if you have it – just give yourself enough time.
Reheat the bacon fat drippings and quickly saute the shrimp, garlic, and half of the green onions just until the shrimp are cooked, about 2-3 minutes. Spoon polenta into the bowl and top with the shrimp, making sure to scrape up every bit of the seasoned bacon fat drippings. (Like the shrimp and grits guy said on Throwdown, you only live once and if you do it right, that’s enough.) Top the dish with the remaining green onions and the crisp bacon and dig in.
- 3 slices bacon, diced
- ¾ pound shrimp, peeled and deveined
- ½ teaspoon dried basil
- ½ teaspoon dried oregano
- 1 teaspoon paprika
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon pepper
- 28 ounces chicken stock (2 14 oz cans)
- ½ cup quick-cooking polenta
- ½ cup sharp cheddar cheese, grated
- 2 tablespoons heavy cream
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 whole green onions, chopped
- Cook bacon in a large skillet over medium high heat until crispy and browned. Remove bacon from pan to a paper towel, reserving 2 tablespoons bacon fat in the pan to cook the shrimp. Combine shrimp with basil, oregano, paprika, salt and pepper and toss together. Bring chicken stock to a boil, then whisk in polenta, stirring over medium heat until polenta thickens, about 5 minutes. Whisk in cheese and heavy cream and set aside. Reheat skillet, then add shrimp, garlic, and half of the green onions. Cook about 2-3 minutes, turning shrimp, until shrimp is cooked. To serve, spoon polenta into a bowl and top with shrimp mixture. Sprinkle remaining green onions and crisp bacon on top and serve immediately.
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