Friday, July 1, 2011

Shrimp and Grits

Last night reminded me why I enjoy cooking so much more than baking.

Because I don't "do" recipes. I mean, sure, if I've never made something before- I'll check out a recipe. But usually, I throw whatever I want to into a pan -based on my personal tastes and cravings - and see what happens.

And usually it turns out pretty dang good if I say so myself.

Last night was no exception. I knew we had shrimp and knew we had grits... so why not do one of my favorite southern classics.

My thought process while cooking goes something like this:

Grits or polenta... grits or polenta. I am running low on grits, so I'll use polenta this round.

Cheddar... cheddar makes everything better - add that to my polenta.

Shrimp... hmmm. I feel like a lot of flavor. Let me cook down some diced pancetta (which will be nice and crunchy to sprinkle on top), and the cook the shrimp in the pancetta drippings and some olive oil. Andddd let's sprinkle the shrimp with Old Bay. I like Old Bay. Might as well toss in some minced garlic and shallots... since I have those lying around. Hmmm this needs to be a little thicker to make some sort of a sauce. A pad of butter? Don't mind if I do. Anddd some white wine. I'm pregnant... white wine doesn't count if I cook it. And some lemon juice - butter, white wine and lemon are my trifecta... remember. Ohhh scallions? It needs something green in there. I'll toss some in with the shrimp while they're cooking and then put some extra on top for more crunch.

Let's plate this thing. Big scoop of cheesy polenta, lots of shrimp on top... drizzle some of the sauce too. I like some heat. Let's add a few shakes of Tobasco on top. And some fresh cracked pepper. Don't forget the scallions and pancetta! And... because I can... a little bit of Locatelli cheese (because we put it on everything.)And voila.


In, I promise, less than 15 minutes. And better tasting than you can find in most restaurants because I could make it according to what I want.

So take THAT baking. You and your measuring cups can get on outta here.

MPLT's Shrimp and Grits
(please don't ask for quantities because I don't measure anything. eyeball it.... except for the grits/polenta - that needs to be exact)

Grits or polenta (polenta is smoother than grits) - cook according to directions
Shrimp - peeled and deveined
A couple 1/4inch thick slices of pancetta --- ask at your deli counter, remember?
Scallions (green onions)
Sharp cheddar
Locatelli --- totally optional, unless you live in our house... then it's mandatory
Garlic, minced... just a clove or two
Shallots, minced
Old Bay seasoning --- not necessary but it gives the shrimp a bit more kick
Tobasco - totally
Butter and olive oil... because you SHOULD

Get your grits/polenta going. Timing is key because once they cool off, they turn into a hard jello. You want to time it so your shrimp are ready to be plated once the grits are done. Once the grits are almost done (the water is absorbed and they are nice and creamy) add your cheese. Salt and pepper.

Make sure your shrimp are clean and dry... sprinkle with Old Bay prior to cooking.

Sautee pancetta (cut it first into small pieces) in a teeny bit of olive oil (it doesn't need much.) Once they are crispy, remove to plate with a towel to remove excess oil. Don't clean the pan.

Depending on how much fat was in your pancetta, you might need to add olive oil or butter to the pan... the shrimpies need something to cook in. Add in your shallots and garlic first. Let them start cooking (but don't brown) and then throw in your shrimp. Please know that shrimp cooks SUPER fast. Once you can see they are pink on one side, flip 'em over. They'll cook even faster on the other side. Toss in your scallions to get soft. Once the shrimp are cooked, quickly add in your white wine, butter, tobasco... whatever else to make your "sauce." Salt and pepper.

Plate up! Grits first, then all the shrimp goodness on top. Then add your pancetta and extra scallions. Squeeze some lemon/put on extra tobasco/whatever. Add more cracked pepper.

That's it folks. So easy Chad could do it (but he won't). ;) It tastes amazing and looks fancy and is something out of the ordinary. If you make it for your man, he'll run out and buy you something fancy... I promise!

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