One of my children is on a gluten free diet and I am always looking for easy meals to prepare that we can all eat. Yesterday I experienced what I guess you could call “divine food providence” as I read my email. There was an email notification from the food website food52 touting a better way to prepare grits. I had already planned on having shrimp and grits for dinner and was trying to think of ways to add flavor without adding too much butter or cheese. Here was my answer!
Although I doubted if any of us would really notice a difference, I followed the recipe and instructions and we were blown away with the results! Thick, creamy, flavorful grits that went perfectly with sauteed shrimp and wilted greens.
The grits recipe is adapted from Sean Brock’s Heritage cookbook, as described on: Food52 Sean Brock’s Southern Grits
I halved the recipe since it was just 3 of us for dinner, and we had several servings of grits left.
For the grits: Place 1 cup high quality grits (as fresh as you can get) in a large bowl and cover with 4 cups of cold water. Let the grits soak in the water for at least 6 hours, or overnight.
When ready to cook, scoop all the chaff that has floated to the surface with a strainer and discard. Pour the grits and water into your stockpot, place on high heat and stir with a silicone spatula until it comes to a full boil. I’m guessing he prefers a silicone spatula because you can use it to scrape the sides of the pot while the grits are cooking, thereby making sure each and every “grit” gets moistened.
When it comes to a boil, take it off the heat, cover and let it rest for 10 minutes. After the 10 minute rest, uncover the pot, place it back on low heat and add 1-2 bay leaves. Cook for 20 to 40 minutes, stirring often. Taste the grits once they thicken to test for doneness. When they are thick and creamy with no grittiness left, they are done.
Now remove the bay leaves, stir in the juice of one half lemon, 1-2 teaspoons of salt and 1 tablespoon of butter. I also like to add a pinch of white pepper or freshly grated nutmeg to my grits. His full recipe using this method calls for simmering 45 minutes to an hour, but I have found that when cooking the halved recipe in my medium stockpot they cook in about 25 minutes. Probably something to do with the smaller amount of grits having more room to move around speeding up the process. Cooking time may vary depending on what size stockpot you use. This will make 4-6 servings of grits.
I prepared my grits first, put a lid on the pot and set it aside until I finished my shrimp and greens.
For the Shrimp: Season 16 ounces (for our dinner I used about 30 medium to large sized shrimp) of uncooked, peeled and deveined shrimp with 1 teaspoon salt, 1 teaspoon pepper, 1 teaspoon ground mustard and 1 teaspoon garlic powder. Saute the seasoned shrimp in 1 tablespoon canola or olive oil over medium high heat just until cooked through. They will turn light pink and will no longer be transparent. As soon as they have this appearance remove them from the heat. Spoon the shrimp onto a plate, keeping any cooking juices in the saute pan, and cover the plate to keep the shrimp warm.
For the Greens: Peel and slice 1 clove of garlic and add to the saute pan along with the leftover juices from the cooked shrimp and 1 tablespoon of canola or olive oil. Add 6 cups of assorted baby greens to the pan, season with a couple of shakes of salt and a pinch of pepper, and saute over medium heat turning with a spoon or tongs as they wilt. This will only take a couple of minutes. I used a 5 ounce package of assorted baby spinach, kale and chard that contained about 6 cups of greens.
Spoon your grits, shrimp and greens onto a plate and dig in! Serves 4-6