Shrimp and Grits is a real favorite of mine. A variation of this dish was introduced to me when I moved to North Carolina. It was simple, just some cheesy grits, plain steamed or pan saute'd shrimp and lemon to drizzle on top. Very easy. This recipe is a revamp and is equally as simple yet it is a two-step process. It has a bit more visual appeal and it has some additional ingredients that give it that extra dimension.
To Make the Cheese Grit Cakes
1 cup Corn grits or polenta
4 cups Water
1 tsp salt (can omit if watching your sodium intake)
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese
Follow the recipe on the container that come with the grits even though I give amounts above. I actually used blue cornmeal from Bob's Red Mill. This variety adds a nice light purple color to the overall display that in my opinion gives the dish an earthy appeal. I also prefer the stove-top cooking method. Just mix the grits, water and salt together in a sauce pan and stir constantly over a medium heat. It goes quite quickly and I enjoy the process of watching the grits get thick. I then add the cheese at the end of the cooking process. Feel free to use more cheese if its your preference. Then place the cooked cheese grits in a large glass baking pan that has been lightly sprayed with cooking oil. Let it cool and refrigerate for at least 2-4 hours. I recommend cooking the grits the night before and let it sit in the fridge. It will be the perfect consistency and hardness to cut into smaller serving sized grit cakes. Once cut to the preferred size (I used a round biscuit cutter), put cheese grit cakes on a oil sprayed baking dish. Bake the cakes at 375 degrees for 15 minutes. Turn each cake on its other side and put additional cheese on top. Put the cakes back in the oven to cook for an additional 15 minutes.
Note: This process can be replaced with buying the tubed polenta. After slicing the polenta and cooking it on one side you can put cheese on top of each slice. If you eat cheese this step is important and adds to the overall flavor but its not necessary.
To Make the Shrimp
- 1.5 lbs of peeled and deveined shrimp
- juice from 2 large lemons
- garlic to taste (use fresh)
- 2 Tbl. olive oil
- 1/2 teaspoon dried basil
- 2 teaspoons fresh thyme
- salt and pepper
- 2 teaspoons fresh thyme
- 1/4 cup chopped fresh basil
- 1 caramelized onion chopped
- 1 saute'd red bell pepper chopped
In a frying pan sprayed with olive oil cooking spray saute' the onion till caramelized. Do the same with the red bell pepper and set both aside in a medium sized bowl. Add the thyme, basil, olive oil, salt and pepper and lemon.
In the same frying pan, spray it again and cook the shrimp with the garlic till the shrimp is just firm and takes on a nice orange/white color.
Place a cheese grit cake on each plate and then put 5 to 7 shrimp on top. Then spoon the vegetable and herb mixture on top of the shrimp for the finishing touch. I think it looks beautiful! This meal can be eaten for breakfast, lunch or dinner. I recently made this for some family members - we ate it for breakfast to celebrate two birthdays - Happy Birthday Elizabeth! and Georgia!
Would love to hear from you and hope you give this a try. Let me know how it goes. Thanks for tuning in. :-)