What’s the difference between polenta and grits? Well, as far as I know, absolutely nothing, which the label on my grits package confirms. I think it’s more about the cooking process (the back of the package has a recipe for grits, which is what I used and only takes about 5 minutes, and one for polenta which takes longer). Use your favorite grits, but not the instant kind. This was my first time using the Bob’s grits and they were great. I also use the Quaker brand, which are white, and also very good, but there’s something about the yellow color that I find a little more visually appetizing.
When I made this for dinner last night it was just my husband and me, and I planned to save the leftovers as a late-night, post-Redskins-win (!!!!!) snack for my son and his girlfriend. Well, long story short, I ended up making another pot of grits for them at about 2:30am. Let’s just say my husband went to bed with a very full tummy!
This is, like most of my recipes, super easy and quick to make..you can easily have this on the table in less than 30 minutes. It’s also made with ingredients that are easy to keep in your pantry and freezer. There is almost always a big bag of frozen shrimp in my freezer, and unlike most other meats, you can thaw them quickly under cold running water.
This dish is also pretty healthy..under 400 calories per serving. You could easily make it a little more weight-friendly by cooking the shrimp in olive oil instead of bacon grease, using reduced-fat cheese or no cheese at all, and skipping the half & half. I’ve done it that way many times, and it’s almost as good as this version. In fact, this is the first time I used bacon, and I think it’s well worth the few extra calories.
And although this recipe has absolutely nothing to do with New Year’s Eve, it is 11:52pm on December 31 as I’m ready to publish this post, so..Happy 2013! Hope it’s a happy and healthy year for you all!
- 1 pound of large peeled, deveined, tail-on shrimp
- Juice and zest of 1 lemon
- 1 teaspoon salt, divided
- ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- ½ teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon cajun seasoning (I use Spice Island brand)
- ¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper (or to taste)
- 4 strips of bacon
- 3 cups of water
- 1 cup of quick-cooking grits (not instant!)
- ⅓ cup fat-free half and half
- ⅓ cup extra sharp cheddar cheese, grated
- 1 garlic clove, crushed or grated
- 1 15 ounce can of diced tomatoes
- 2 scallions, thinly sliced
- 4 lemon wedges
- Place shrimp in a bowl and add half of the salt, the pepper, garlic powder, cajun seasoning, and crushed red pepper. Toss gently to coat shrimp; set aside.
- Cut bacon into ½ inch pieces and place in an unheated skillet. Brown over medium heat until crispy, about 10 minutes, stirring a few times.
- Drain bacon on a paper-towel lined plate and set aside. Reserve 1 tablespoon of the bacon drippings for cooking the shrimp; remove from heat until ready for shrimp.
- While bacon is cooking, prepare the grits. Bring water to a boil in a medium saucepan. Add the remaining ½ teaspoon of salt, slowly whisk in the grits, and immediately reduce heat to low. Cook grits until done, about 5 minutes, and stir often.
- When grits are almost done, whisk in the half and half, then gently whisk in the cheese. If grits are too thick, add more half and half; if they’re too thin, cook another minute or two. Remove from heat, cover, and set aside.
- Return bacon drippings to medium heat and add shrimp. Cook about 2 minutes per side or until the shrimp begin to turn pink. Add garlic and saute for 1 minute, stirring so that garlic doesn’t burn. Add tomatoes and lemon juice and cook for another minute or two until tomatoes are heated through and shrimp are opaque. Taste and adjust seasonings as needed.
- Divide grits evenly into 4 shallow soup or pasta bowls, top with shrimp mixture, and garnish with bacon, scallions, and lemon wedges. Serve immediately.