What are grits? There doesn’t seem to be a standardization or labeling rules as to what grits are and are they the same as polenta or cornmeal? If you look at Bob’s Red Mill bag of corn grits you’ll notice it says also known as polenta. Grits are typically coarse-ground cornmeal. Polenta and grits fall under the heading of cornmeal – are you confused yet? Cornmeal comes from steel ground dried corn (maize) and is available fine, medium or coarse grind. The most common is fine ground. Stone ground cornmeal, however, keeps some of the hull and germ, allowing for a bit more flavor and nutrition. My take? When all else fails, select medium or coarse-ground cornmeal and you can’t go wrong.
inspired by Soul Patrol
Grits Topping –
2 cloves garlic, chopped
handful fresh basil, roughly chopped
2 tablespoons sun-dried tomatoes, chopped
1 to 2 cups chicken stock
2 tablespoons flour
6 strips bacon
1/2 cup celery, finely chopped
fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoons chopped chives
chopped parsley, for garnish
balsamic vinegar reduction (optional)
Cheese Grits –
4 cups water
1 cup stone-ground grits
2 cups aged cheddar cheese, grated
2 tablespoons butter
1. To make the grits bring water to a boil and slowly add grits, stir. Turn heat down to medium and cook, stirring occasionally 25 minutes or until thick. Remove from heat and add butter and cheese. Stir until combined. Cover.
2. In a large frying pan, cook bacon to desired liking. Remove from pan and roughly chop. In the same pan with bacon fat, sauté shrimp over medium-high heat until pink on both sides. Remove from pan.
3. Add sun-dried tomatoes, celery and garlic. Sauté over medium heat 2 minutes or until celery is al dente. Add shrimp and bacon back to pan along with 2 tablespoons flour. Stir until flour is absorbed. Add 1 cup of chicken stock and stir until sauce is thickened (add more stock if too thick). Then add 1 tablespoon of lemon juice – add more if you like. Stir in chives and basil.
4. Place cheesy grits in 4 bowls and add shrimp mixture. Top with parsley, drizzle with balsamic vinegar reduction and serve immediately.
The Culinary Chase’s Note: While the gits are cooking, make the topping…you’ll have a meal ready for the table in half an hour. Adding balsamic vinegar intensifies the flavors and you’ll be scraping the bowl clean! Enjoy!