Matt keeps a list next to his computer of dinner ideas which comes in handy when I'm making the weekly menu. Shrimp & grits was one of those ideas & maybe because I was down South last week it sounded good to me. Well, not only did it sound good but it ended up tasting great!
Neither of us had ever made made shrimp & grits before but I knew it was a favorite of my mom & dad in Memphis. So I called my mom & she said it was super easy, just cook up the grits, add shrimp, cheese & bacon & you're done. I didn't have any grits in the house but my mom said not to worry she actually just uses corn meal.
Ok, ok I know yellow corn meal is not actually the hominy grits you'd get down South but from everything I read online its certainly close enough for a couple Minnesotans like us. Really, we have no idea how close our finished dish was to the traditional at all. What we do know is that this dish had a wonderful creamy, cheesy texture, the perfect saltiness that is bacon, a little bite from the onions, sweetness from the shrimp & just a touch of heat from the cayenne. And we know we'll be making it this way again.
Shrimp & Grits (Minnesota-style)
1 1/2 T unsalted butter
1/2 c yellow onion, diced
2 c water, divided
1/2 c corn meal (I think you can use yellow or white)
1/4 t salt
1/4 t cayennne pepper
3 strips bacon, cut into 1/2-inch slices
20 - 30 cooked, peeled shrimp
1 oz sharp Cheddar, grated (Use a good cheese as it really flavors the dish. We used Faribault Dairy Fini Cheddar from Faribault, MN)
2 scallions , chopped
In a large saucepan melt the butter over medium-high heat. Add the yellow onion & cook until translucent. Add 1 1/2 cups of the water & bring to a boil. Mix the corn meal with the remaining 1/2 cup water. Stir slowly into the boiling water & turn the heat to low. Stir in the salt & cayenne. Continue to stir while cooking for about 5 minutes, it should thicken to the consistency of cream of wheat.
Meanwhile in a small skillet, cook the bacon until crispy. Remove to a paper towel to drain. Heat the shrimp quickly until just hot in the bacon fat.
Once the corn meal has reached the desired consistency, add the cheese & stir until melted.
Plate the grits & top with the bacon & shrimp. Sprinkle with scallions.