Grits are, for the most part, just a version of polenta, usually made with white corn meal and served with lots of butter and cheese. Consistency is a matter of personal preference, so keep tasting as you cook, knowing that once they are off the heat, they end up thickening up quite a bit.
If you have a basic recipe for either of the components of this dish, feel free to use them. I am a strong proponent of using methods that are familiar and work well. This is simply my take on this classic of southern American cooking.
This recipe serves two hungry fast-breakers.
For the grits, bring to a boil:
1 1/2 cups of water, salted
Stir together and add to the boiling water:
1/2 cup of water
1/2 cup white or yellow cornmeal
Cook, stirring frequently, until very thick or to your tastes; I usually take about 20 minutes to cook grits, then add:
3-5 strips of bacon, fried and crumbled
1/2 to 1 cup of shredded Cheddar or Monterey Jack cheese (optional, especially with shrimp*)
Taste, and add salt and pepper to adjust seasoning
For the shrimp, peel and de-vein:
10-12 large to extra-large raw shrimp
Add the shrimp to a large bowl and toss with:
Old Bay seasoning
Ground, tinned black pepper
Freshly ground black or white pepper
Basically, you want to coat the shrimp with an even layer of seasoning without over-seasoning, so trust yourself to know what will be just right and what will be over the top for you. You can let the shrimp sit for a little while, if you you are in the middle of cooking the grits, so don’t worry too much – the seasoning rub can act just like a marinade in this case.
When your grits are close to being done, heat, in a large non-stick skillet:
1 tablespoon of olive oil
1 tablespoon of unsalted butter
Once the butter is hot and smells nutty, add:
1 clove of garlic, pressed
When the garlic is fragrant, add the shrimp and saute for about 3 minutes per side, or until completely pink. Toss with:
2 tablespoons of chopped Italian parsley
Spoon the grits into bowls and serve shrimp on top or on the side; enjoy that taste of the south!
*In many cultures, seafood and cheese have no earthly business being served together. For the most part, I agree, but in this instance, the grits almost absorb the cheese so completely that it acts simply as a seasoning. Feel free to experiment.