Shrimp and grits

Have you ever noticed that when disaster strikes somehow food is involved at some point? At least it is in the South. A friend told me that where ever he is in the world when he dies he wants to be buried in the South. I told him that would be because he would be assured that the funeral food at the reception would be good.

So disaster struck at the Community Resource Center Sunday night. We are having a little flooding problem in Middle Tennessee. You’d never know it watching the national news. I don’t know why but no one seems interested in major landmarks under water, tens of thousands of people losing their homes and all their possessions and a rising death toll. Can you tell I am quite perplexed at this? At any rate, our building is the white one with the red roof. There are five feet of oily, chemically laden water lapping at the front door. We are dealing with it. Without the glare of national publicity.

But I digress. Food. In this case shrimp and grits. There is nothing more comforting than a bowl of creamy grits topped with spicy shrimp when you are feeling just slightly overwhelmed by the task ahead.

Here’s the thing with grits and this may be the most important piece of advice I’ve given in awhile. Whether they are quick-cooking grits or regular (never, ever as long as you live use instant grits), you must cook them until creamy. Which means don’t pay any attention to the package directions, except for the measurements. And you need to use milk, not water. Adding butter is also a good thing. You have to whisk and whisk and whisk. Not frenetically. Just constantly. And then taste, taste, taste. If they taste “gritty”, they are not done. Whisk some more. I’d say if you spend a good 20 minutes you’ll have good results. A bowl of really well cooked creamy grits will change your life.

Shrimp and grits don’t normally have any vegetable matter in them, but I add some peppers because I foolishly believe it makes the dish healthy. Don’t tell me otherwise. I’m fragile right now.

Shrimp and grits

Regular or quick-cooking grits (not instant!)

6 strips bacon

1 red pepper, sliced into strips

1 yellow pepper, sliced into strips

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 ½ pounds shrimp, peeled and deveined

BBQ rub

Juice of one lemon

Prepare grits according to package directions, using milk instead of water so that they are exceptionally creamy.

Fry the bacon until crisp. Set bacon aside but reserve bacon fat.

In another skillet, sauté the peppers in about 2 tablespoons butter over medium heat until browned. Add garlic and sauté for 30 seconds. Remove from heat and reserve.

Sprinkle shrimp liberally with your favorite BBQ rub. Add shrimp to the bacon fat and sauté for one minute on each side or until shrimp have just turned pink.

Crumble bacon.

To serve: Put a couple of ladles of grits in a bowl. Top with shrimp and peppers. Sprinkle with crumbled bacon.

You know, it just occurred to me that I never give portion sizes. That’s just up to you. You’ll have leftovers, so who cares?

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