This Southern specialty is always a crowd-pleaser, but the quality of these grits will absolutely blow your guests away. They’re so rich and full of true corn flavor that you won’t even want to stir butter and cheese into the cooked grits. Even if your guests are Southerners. (No, really, I’m not kidding!)
For the most sustainable dish, use white, brown, pink or rock shrimp wild-caught in the United States, and choose bacon from pigs that were raised on pasture. Search the database at www.eatwild.com for a sustainable meat source where you live.
Serves 4 to 6
For the grits:
5 cups liquid (any combination of water, milk, cream and shrimp or chicken stock, depending on desired richness)
1 cup coarsely ground ‘Floriani’ corn (If you can't find any 'Floriani,' substitute other stone-ground grits — the recipe still works.)
1 tsp sea salt
Few twists freshly ground pepper
1 to 2 cloves garlic, diced
Add liquid(s) to a heavy-bottom pot. Over medium-high heat, whisk in grits, salt and pepper. When the mixture begins to bubble, reduce heat to medium-low and simmer until the liquid is absorbed and grits are tender, about 40 minutes. Stir continually to prevent the grits from sticking to the bottom of the pan, or use a double boiler. Cover to keep warm, and set aside.
For the shrimp:
4 slices thick-cut bacon, chopped (If you prefer not to use bacon, substitute olive oil for the bacon grease.)
1 medium white onion or 4 shallots, thinly sliced
2 cloves garlic, diced
1/4 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
1 pound shrimp, peeled, deveined, rinsed and patted dry
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper
Pinch cayenne pepper
1 cup shrimp or chicken stock and/or clam juice
Juice of half a lemon
2 bay leaves
2 big handfuls of soft greens (spinach, arugula, chard or kale without ribs, radish or beet greens, etc.)
1 small handful parsley leaves, torn or chopped
Fry bacon until browned. With a slotted spoon, remove bacon pieces to a paper towel to drain. Pour off all but about 2 tablespoons of the grease, then add onions and garlic, and sauté over medium heat for 2 minutes. To create a roux, sprinkle flour over the pan and whisk it into the grease, sautéing until the mixture is light brown. Sprinkle with salt and peppers. Add the stock, lemon juice and bay leaves, and bring to gentle boil, scraping up and incorporating any browned bits on the bottom of the pan and stirring to remove lumps. Stir in shrimp and cook just until the shrimp turn pink, about 1 minute. Add back the bacon pieces (if using) and toss in the greens, cooking until they wilt. Stir in parsley and remove from heat.
For the table
Spoon grits into a shallow bowl. Top with shrimp mixture and chives. Serve immediately.
You may have seen some of our recent coverage on 'Floriani Red Flint' grain corn.
Can you tell we're pretty excited about it? If you want to try growing some in your kitchen garden, you'll find seeds at Southern Exposure Seed Exchange and FEDCO.