Do you ever look in your fridge and determine that nothing you have is suitable for dinner? I am pretty meticulous about meal planning and so I organize my grocery lists and trips according to what I have on the menu in the upcoming week. But sometimes, my best planning efforts get wasted. Such was the case yesterday, when I decided that I was in the mood for some southern flavor in the form of shrimp and grits, but hadn’t planned for it.
Not only was this not on my meal plan, but I also ended up making a trip to the grocery store to purchase just about everything in this dish! Like I said, sometimes the best laid plans…
Sometimes you just need to go with your cravings. And man, am I so happy I did, because this dish turned out great. Plus, I am very resourceful with ingredients (and hate to throw food out), so all the stuff I bought for last night’s planned dinner will get used at some point.
I made this dish for Kate and me, but have doubled the recipe below to make it for four servings. This dish is perfect for a weeknight meal (assuming, unlike me, you have gone to the grocery store on the weekend!), because the whole thing including the grits, bacon, shrimp and veggies came together 20 minutes.
Shrimp and Grits – Serves 4 (inspired by Eat.Live.Run’s In a Hurry Shrimp n’ Grits)
1 1/2 lbs shrimp, peeled and deveined (I used 30-40 count shrimp, which means that there are 30-40 shrimp per pound. Feel free to use bigger shrimp if you want)
1 cup stoneground grits
4 cups water or milk
3/4 cup sharp cheddar cheese, grated, plus more for topping
4 slices of bacon
1 cup scallions, chopped
2 seranno peppers, minced
4 garlic gloves, minced
4 cups of spinach
1/4 cup butter (1/2 a stick)
S+P to taste
In a medium sauce pan, bring the water or milk to a boil. Once boiling, add the grits, whisking to incorporate. Add salt and pepper to grits (approximately 1/2 tsp of each). Once combined, turn heat down to simmer and cook grits for 15 minutes until the liquid has evaporated and the grits are tender.
In a large skillet, cook the bacon until browned and crisp (but not burnt). Remove bacon from pan and blot with a paper towel to remove excess oil. Once cooled, chop bacon.
In the same pan that you cooked the bacon in (with the bacon fat still in the pan), turn the heat to medium low. Add the chopped peppers, garlic and scallions. Sautee for 2 minutes until fragrant but not browned. Remove from pan. Turn heat up to medium and add shrimp. Season with salt and pepper and cook for approximately 2 minutes per side (depending on the size). Do not overcook the shrimp. Once they have turned pink and have curled up, turn off the heat.
While the shrimp are cooking, steam or sauté the spinach. Also, after the grits have finished cooking, add the 1/2 a stick of butter and 3/4 cup of grated cheddar cheese. Stir everything together until the butter and cheese have melted and been incorporated into the grits.
To serve the dish, you want to first add the cheesy grits to the bottom of the bowl. Then sprinkle the shrimp along the outside of the grits and place the steamed spinach in the middle (I didn’t add additional butter to my spinach because I thought the flavors in the grits added enough flavor). Evenly distribute the garlic, serrano pepper and green onions mixture over the shrimp. Finally top the whole dish with the chopped bacon and some extra grated cheddar cheese.
And last, but not least, feast on a delicious (and quick) southern meal!