I want to share with you my latest food obsession – grits! Specifically white corn grits from Palmetto Farms, gluten free of course. With little knowledge and no prior consumption of them, they are a revelation for me. I didn’t grow up in the “South”, and have not even one relative that could lay claim to being reared south of the Mason-Dixon line.
You would think that would hinder my ability to fully embrace grits. Nope. However, it did give me a clean canvas to experiment with them. You see they are a bit of a chameleon, changing taste and texture with whatever you pair them with.
While some Southerners swear by the 1/2 water, 1/2 milk for the liquid component, I don’t. After several batches (all enjoyed) I found that all chicken or vegetable stock is preferable for us. Some like gooey cheeses like cheddar, chevre or blue in their grits, while we preferred a salty cheese. Manchego won the cheese debate here, since it enparts a nice salty, tangy flavor.
They are perfect dinner party fare. You can start them cooking just before your guests arrive then leave them on low bubbling away for ages. Just stir every 10-15 minutes adding a bit of liquid to keep them moving but not soupy. Then, when you are ready to serve remove from heat and stir in some butter, herbs, cheese, and mashed roasted garlic as I did here, adjust for salt and pepper and top with anything you want.
Of course shrimp are a natural, I like to shake them up in a paper lunch bag with cornstarch, a bit of cayenne and paprika. That way you can achieve a nice crispy exterior quite quickly so the shrimp don’t dry out.
Piled on top of some roasted little tomatoes, and sprinkled with fresh herbs, it might just make you feel like you grew up in the South honey!
- For the grits:
- 1 cup white corn grits, I like Palmetto Farms
- 4 cups chicken/vegetable stock, or water/milk if you are from the south
- 1-2 tablespoons kosher salt
- a few grounds of fresh black pepper
- 2 tablespoons of butter
- 1/4 to 1/2 cup finely grated Manchego or similar cheese
- smashed roasted garlic from the tomatoes below
- For the shrimp:
- 4-6 shrimp per person, size 21-25 or larger, cleaned and butterflied
- 1 large paper lunch bag
- 3 Tablespoons cornstarch
- 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon paprika
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 4 Tablespoons olive oil
- For the tomatoes:
- 6 oz grape or cherry tomatoes
- 1 head of garlic, cloves separated with outer skin removed
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- Salt and pepper to taste
Preheat oven to 400 degrees
Get the stock/water to boil, add a generous amount of kosher salt (3 Tbsp)
Whisk in the grits and bring back to boil, reduce heat to low and let cook
Stirring every 10-15 mins, adding a few tablespoons of liquid only if needed to keep loose
After the grits have been cooking for 20 mins place whole cherry or grape tomatoes in a baking dish with 1/4 cup of olive oil and garlic cloves to one side
Add salt and pepper to taste, bake for 15 mins or so, you want the garlic soft and tomatoes just beginning to collapse
Now put the peeled, deveined and butterflied shrimp into the paper bag with cornstarch
and spices, add salt to taste and give a good shake over the sink, the bags are not airtight
Grab a large cast iron frying pan and heat over high heat, add a generous amount of olive oil, once the oil is extremely hot lower to med/high heat and add shrimp
Let cook undisturbed about 2-3 minutes per side
Remove the tomatoes from the oven and fish out the garlic cloves then mash with a fork
Remove the grits from the heat, add butter, cheese and the mashed garlic
stir vigorously for about 1 minute, taste and adjust for salt and add a generous amount of
freshly ground pepper
Ladle grits into shallow bowl, top with roasted tomatoes and juices, then place shrimp on top, sprinkle with fresh chives and serve