I was born and raised in the south. Geographically, Virginia is considered the mid-south. That makes me a mid-southerner--a mid-southerner who never tasted grits growing up. My first introduction was during a trip to the Raleigh-Durham area. Andrew had a meeting and I tagged along from our home in Southern California. We flew to Virginia to leave our toddler and infant with my sister and parents. The North Carolina bed and breakfast we stayed in served up creamy, cheesy grits for breakfast and I was left wondering where the dish had been all my life!! Before heading back to Virginia, we stopped at a Piggly-Wiggly (I'd never heard of the chain before and couldn't resist checking it out) to take home a few items. In the baby food aisle, there were jars of Gerber's Grits for babies!! I snatched up half a dozen jars to take back to California for all the babies we knew. I wonder if Gerber's still jars grits for southern babies??
Shrimp and Grits from the deep south
1 cup white or yellow stone-ground grits
3/4 cup sharp cheddar, grated
1/4 cup Parmesan, grated
2 Tbsp unsalted butter
Freshly ground black pepper
2 Tbsp canola oil
4 slices bacon, chopped
1 lb medium shrimp, peeled
1 large garlic clove, chopped
1/2 cup chicken broth
4 lemon wedges plus 1 Tbsp lemon juice
Dash of hot sauce
4 scallions, thinly sliced
1. In a large saucepan, bring 4 cups of water to a roiling boil over high heat. Reduce heat to low and stir in the grits. Cook, stirring frequently, until the grits are tender and creamy--about 40 minutes. Stir in the cheeses and 1 Tbsp of the butter. Season with salt if needed. Cover and keep warm while preparing the shrimp.
2. Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the bacon and sauté, stirring frequently, until crisp--about 10 minutes. Transfer the bacon to a plate lined with a paper towel. Reserve the bacon grease in the pan.
3. Season the shrimp with salt and pepper. Over medium heat, add the shrimp to the skillet and cook, turning once, until pink, about 2 minutes. Transfer the shrimp to a plate. Lower the heat to medium and add the garlic, cooking for 1 minute. Raise the heat to high and add the chicken broth. Cook until the broth is reduced by half. This will take 3 to 4 minutes. Return the shrimp to the skillet and add the lemon juice, remaining Tbsp of butter and the hot sauce. Cook, stirring, for another minute.
4. Divide the cooked grits among four shallow bowls. Top each bowl with the shrimp and sauce. Garnish with the bacon, scallions and lemon wedges.