As a Canadian, my knowledge of Southern food is pretty much non-existent. Pimiento - what? Grits - huh? But when I saw Bobby Flay and his wife make jalapeno cheddar grits on Boy Meets Grill, I knew I had to try the tasty-looking side dish (or, apparently, breakfast) with a slightly less appetizing name.
As far as I've seen, grits aren't sold in Canada. So on my last cross-border trip, I went to Meijer and bought myself a canister. And now, I'm so happy that I did.
Grits are kind of like the Southern version of polenta. They're made from hominy, which is made of dried corn kernels (minus the germ and and hull). You make grits on the stovetop, usually with the addition of water and the help of a bit of stirring - much less stirring than is required for polenta, in fact.
Ina Garten's Creamy Cheddar Grits from Back to Basics inspired me to finally cook some of the grits that had been sitting in my cupboard. The grits are cooked with some water, cream, and butter, and cheddar and green onions are added after the grits are finished cooking. The green onions are essential - they add so much flavour to this dish.
I knew as soon as I saw the recipe that I wanted to serve it with shrimp, so my boyfriend and I came up with this recipe for garlic-lime shrimp. It was the perfect combination. The shrimp cooks up quickly, in the last 10 minutes of the grits' cook time, which means it's easy to time things properly and you can serve both elements of the meal piping hot.
Keep reading for the recipe for both.
Serves 2 (multiply accordingly)
2o small raw shrimp, peeled and deveined (tails on or off, depending on your preferences)
1 tbsp. garlic
Marinate shrimp with 2 tsp. lime juice, a sprinkle of salt, black pepper, and cayenne pepper (add cayenne according to how spicy you like your food) for 30 mins. If making shrimp with the grits, you can begin to marinate it after the grits have already started cooking.
Heat a splash of olive oil over medium heat in a medium frying pan. Add 1 tbsp. minced garlic and cook for about 2 minutes, just until softened. Add shrimp to frying pan, followed by another splash of lime juice. Cook until shrimp turns pink. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Creamy Cheddar Grits
Serves 6 as a side dish
Slighty adapted from Back to Basics
2 tsp. salt
1 cup quick-cooking grits (not instant)
1 1/4 cups half and half
2 tbsp. butter or margarine
1.5 cups old Cheddar cheese, grated
4 stalks of green onion, chopped (we left the white parts out although Ina Garten says to use them)
Black pepper to taste
Bring 4 cups of water to a boil in a medium saucepan. Add the salt, then slowly add the grits in a thin steady stream. Stir constantly with a wooden spoon. Reduce heat to low and simmer, stirring occasionally, until grits thicken, 5-7 minutes.
Add the half and half and butter to the grits and stir. Bring to a simmer, stirring occasionally. Cover the pot, reduce the heat to low, and cook, stirring occasionally for 45 minutes, until very smooth and creamy. Off the heat, stir in the cheddar cheese, green onions, and pepper. Season to taste and serve hot.