Confession: I’ve never had shrimp & grits before. So i was even more surprised to be craving it over the holidays. How can you crave something you’ve never even tasted? I took some liberties that would horrify even Paula Deen with this classic Southern dish and adapted it to my half-Spaniard taste buds using aged manchego instead of cheddar cheese and smoked paprika because it goes so well with sauteed shrimp and bacon.
There seems to be some confusions out there on whether polenta and grits are the same thing. The short answer is no. Corn meal and polenta are both ground corn, the only real difference is in the coarseness of the meal. Grits are ground hominy, and in fact, they are more accurately called hominy grits. Hominy is corn that has been soaked in lye or lime and then dried. It’s finally ground into coarse, medium or fine grits, the finer version being masa, the hominy flour that is used to make corn tortillas and tamales.
Like for risotto, making grits takes quick decision making and serious multitasks abilities like being able to reach for your glass of chilled Pouilly-Fuissé with your left hand while stirring the pot with your right hand (Pouilly-Fuissé is not an ingredient in the recipe but if you are the one designated to stand in front of the stove sweating, you might as well do it in style). The best part of it all? It’s cheap, quick and has the wow factor of something that has been cooking for hours.
Shrimp & Grits with Bacon, Smoked Paprika & Aged Manchego
- Serves 4
Shrimp & Grits recipe:
- 2 cups water
- 2 cups milk
- 1 cup stone-ground grits
- salt and pepper
- 4 tablespoons butter
- 2 cups aged manchego, shredded
- 1 pound shrimp, peeled and deveined
- 1 garlic clove, chopped
- 6 slices bacon, chopped
- 1/2 tablespoon smoked paprika
- squeeze of lemon juice
- 2 tablespoons chopped parsley
- 1 cup thinly sliced scallions
Shrimp & Grits recipe :
- In a medium pot, bring water and milk to a simmer. Add the grits, season with salt and pepper and cook over medium-low heat while stirring until the mixture is smooth and creamy, about 20 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in butter and aged manchego cheese.
- Fry the bacon until crisp. Drain on paper towels. In the same pan sautee the shrimp until golden, add the garlic, smoked paprika and lemon juice. Toss in the chopped bacon, parsley and scallions.
- Spoon the creamy grits in soup bowls, top with the shrimp and bacon mixture. Shave some manchego over the top.