Food is always coming out of my kitchen. So it seems most folks are envious of my other half. He must have it pretty good, they assume. But to be quite honest, dating me isn't always as delicious as it seems.
As a food blogger, I have a very strange cooking schedule. Mainly, "dinner" is usually made in the middle of the afternoon, in an attempt to catch the best natural light. And some days can be all dessert, all the time. We actually rarely sit down for a traditional meal together – although I'd like to.
I'm often giving food away (offering it to friends, neighbors, and coworkers) in an attempt to keep "most" of the temptation away, which means he never seems gets his fair share (in his humble opinion, anyway). Or I go on major cooking benders when he's not around. In fact, I made a fabulous creole-style jambalaya last weekend for my parents and all he got was a measly cell phone photo. Poor guy.
So I finally asked him. "What would you like for me to cook for you, darling? It can be anything. Something I've made. Something we've never had. Whatever you want." His response? Shrimp and grits. I think I can handle that. Needless to say I happily obliged.
It doesn't get much more satisfying than this low country favorite. Recipes abound, but my version keeps it classic. No frills or unnecessary add-ins. And if you can manage stirring the grits and sautéing the shrimp at the same time, then it's quite simple, too. (Me on the other hand? Let's just say multitasking isn't my forte.)
The boyfriend was quite pleased with the end results. Actually, he said it may be some of my best work yet. I'll let you find out for yourself.
For the grits
4 cups milk
1 cup stone ground grits
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 tablespoon butter
For the shrimp
1 1/2 pounds peeled and deveined shrimp
1 teaspoon Old Bay seasoning
1 lemon, cut in half
For the gravy
6 slices bacon, diced
2 tablespoons butter
1 onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/2 cup white wine
1 cup chicken stock, preferably homemade
Kosher salt, to taste
Thinly sliced green onions, for garnish (optional)
For the grits, bring milk to a gentle boil in a heavy sauce pan. Add grits and reduce heat to medium low. Whisk occasionally at first, then whisk more frequently as the grits begin to thicken, watching carefully to make sure the bottom of the pot does not scald. Cook until the grits are thick and creamy, about 45 minutes to an hour. Add salt and butter, adjusting to personal taste. Meanwhile, prepare the shrimp and gravy.
For the shrimp, sprinkle them with Old Bay seasoning and the juice of one half a lemon. Set aside. (Please note, I left the shrimp tails on for styling purposes. It is much easier to eat them with the tails off, but it is entirely up to you.)
For the gravy, heat a large fry pan or braiser over medium-high heat. Cook until bacon is brown and almost crispy (but not quite), about 12 minutes. Remove the bacon from the pan and set aside. Drain all of the bacon grease except for 2 tablespoons. Lower the heat to medium, add the shrimp (in batches if necessary) and saute, flipping once, until pink and cooked through, approximately 3 - 5 minutes. Remove shrimp with their cooking liquids. Squeeze with the juice of the remaining lemon half and set aside.
Heat the butter in the same pan over medium to medium-high until melted. Add onions and saute until tender, about seven minutes. Throw in garlic and cook for another minute. Sprinkle flour over the onions and cook until it is absorbed, about 1 more minute. Add wine and reduce until the mixture is thickened. Add chicken stock and continue cooking until the gravy reaches your desired consistency, about 5 minutes. Season with kosher salt, to taste. Return the bacon and shrimp with its juices to the pan and reheat shrimp. Adjust seasoning as necessary.
To serve, spoon the grits into bowls. Pour shrimp and gravy on top and garnish with sliced green onions.
To reheat, add a little chicken stock to the grits and/or gravy and warm over medium-low heat.
Related: Recipe Roundup: Grits
(Images: Nealey Dozier)