Growing up in the Southern Midwest left me in a bit of a weird place when it comes to culture. I grew up 30 minutes away from the Kentucky border. Kentucky is decidedly the gateway to “the South” but no one would ever consider Indiana southern. So I grew up living in a Yankee state butted right up to the South.
When I moved 90 minutes north to go to college, people thought I was so backcountry. In high school, people made fun of me because I didn’t have an accent, but when I moved to college, I got made fun of for my Southern accent. Coincidentally, it has all balanced out now and I have a pretty neutral accent.
This weird gray area is where a lot of my food influences come from. I grew up eating grits, fried chicken and hominy. And it wasn’t until I got to college that I began to realize that not everyone knew of these kinds of foods. Some of my friends didn’t even know what grits were! The horror! And go figure, I go and marry the ultimate northerner. Babyface definitely had never had grits before I came ’round.
Anyway, that’s a long way of saying that I love, love southern food, even though I’m technically a Yankee. And Babyface does, too! This dish is one of the more perfect of the southern classics. Cheesy, stoneground grits are topped with some plump shrimp sautéed in a garlic pan sauce. My favorite part of this dish is that it is perfect for the nights when Babyface is working late and I’m on my own. It comes together in 15 minutes and makes a perfect single serving. Of course, just double, triple or quadruple the ingredients for two or more servings.
Try to grab stoneground grits if you can find them. If you are way up north, you might not be able to find anything labeled grits anywhere. If so, look for coarsely ground cornmeal or polenta. They are pretty much the same thing just under different names. If you are in a real pinch, you can use finely ground cornmeal, but it will render a much smoother and pudding-like grits. Which I think is a bummer.
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Shrimp and Grits for One
Adapted from Eat, Live Run
This dish is one of the best comfort foods I know. If you like the result, try the cheesy grits as a base for lots of other dishes. Use it in place of pasta for a red sauce or a mushroom saute.
Makes one serving
- 1 cup water
- 1/3 cup stoneground grits
- 1 teaspoon butter
- 1/4 cup shredded cheddar cheese
- Salt and pepper, to taste
- 1 slice thick-cut bacon
- Pinch of crushed red pepper flakes
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 8 medium shrimp, peeled, deveined and tails removed
- 1 teaspoon lemon juice
- 1 scallion, white and green parts chopped thin
- In a medium saucepan, bring the water to a boil.
- Reduce heat, simmer and stir in grits. Cook grits for 7-10 minutes or until tender and water is absorbed.
- Remove from heat, add in butter, cheese, salt and pepper and stir until melted. Set aside.
- While grits are cooking, cook bacon in a skillet over medium-low heat until crisp. Remove from pan, crumble and set aside.
- To the bacon grease in the skillet, add the red pepper flakes and garlic. Cook for 1-3 minutes or until garlic is just soft.
- Add shrimp and cook until opaque and pink, about 3 minutes.
- Remove from heat, stir in lemon juice.
- Plate by pouring shrimp and sauce over grits and topping with crumbled bacon and scallions.