I’m from the South, and it’s hard to grow up in the south without grits (the instant kind don’t count) or if you make a trip down to coastal Carolina, not see Shrimp & Grits on the menu. It’s an easy meal during the week and absolutely delicious. There’s a sort of nostalgia to eating this common southern dish; memories of trips to the coast and the smell of sea water. It just adds to the layers of comfort this dish offers. Here i’ve used polenta, which is Italian and made from yellow corn as opposed to the southern white corn grits. The texture is also a little coarser, and cooks a bit quicker than southern grain grits which are finer. It’s a bit heartier and the color is just beautiful. I used Bob’s Red Mill polenta, which you can find in the oatmeal section or along with other Bob’s Red Mill products. The spice in the shrimp is adjustable, but just a dash should give you that southern spice kick without having to fan your mouth. The sweetness of the thyme and citrus of the lemon juice balance out the richness from the ghee (or butter) and the crunch of the peppers and onions adds another layer to this fine dish. Enjoy!
Shrimp & Grits
For the Shrimp:
1 pound, tail on medium shrimp
1/2 tsp thyme
1/2 tsp pepper
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/4 tsp smoked paprika
1/4 tsp onion powder
Pinch of cayenne
1/2 onion, finely chopped
1/2 red bell pepper, finely chopped
2 tbs ghee or butter
1 tsp lemon juice
For the Grits:
1 1/2 cups polenta
1 cup unsweetened almond milk
1 1/2 cups water
2 tsp kosher salt
1 tbs ghee or butter
For the Polenta:
1. Bring the water, salt, and almond milk to a boil and then turn down into a simmer.
2. Add in your polenta and stir together. Cook until the mixture has thickened and the grounds cooked. The almond milk will absorb quickly, so add more water if you get the liquid too hot. Cook for around 5-10 min, stirring often.
3. When the polenta is done, add the ghee or butter and mix until melted.
For the Shrimp:
1. Heat a pan with the ghee or butter while you chop you pepper and onion.
2. Add pepper and onions into the pan and cook for about 10 min. You want the peppers done and the onion almost transparent.
3. Add in your shrimp and the spice blend. Toss to coat.
4. Shrimp cook quick, so as soon as the tails curl in and the flesh is all pink, remove from the heat. This should take anywhere between 3-5 min, depending on the size of your shrimp. Finish with lemon juice.
5. Serve the shrimp over the polenta and garnish with parsley if desired!
Chef’s Note: I found that the polenta thickened very quickly and really didn’t need that much cooking time, I simply kept the heat on low for an additional 5 min while I cooked the shrimp. If you use a white corn grit, “southern grits”, you may need more cooking time and will need to use less grits. White grits I’ve found double in size whereas polenta sort of condenses. So For two people, if using white corn grits, i’d use maybe 1/2-1 cup grits and only 1/2 cup almond milk alongside 1 cup water. Adding more liquid if necessary. All cooking is a judgement call. Trust your instinct there.