Spicy Cheddar Shrimp and Grits

 

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Tonight I decided to try something new: I’ve eaten shrimp and grits once at a restaurant, I’ve made just grits, but I’ve never made the entire dish myself.

Grits are difficult to make. A quick Google search will confirm that there are few agreements about how they should be cooked, and once you do decide on a method execution is yet another challenge. Some recipes will skimp too much and tell you to just use broth or cream and no cheese; others will go too heavy and suggest bacon, cream, cheese, and butter; and some will say add tomatoes or even mushrooms. And then you have to decide what cheese to use, what style of grits, and what kind of shrimp (shrimp varies in quality more than you might think).

Anyway, I decided to go with lightly creamy and cheesy, very spicy, and quick-cooking grits (the only kind I have, unfortunately; they seem to be the lower quality kind of grits; I would get a slower-cooking kind). For the creaminess, I used half and half; the cheesiness, sharp white cheddar (though I’ve made grits with goat cheese before and I like them better that way; cheddar is cheaper); and for the spiciness, jalapeno peppers*, cayenne, and smoked chipotle powder.

Overall, I was mostly satisfied with the result. The main issue was a silly error: I added too much salt. Sometimes I forget that adding cheese will increase a dish’s salt content.

*WARNING: be careful when cutting jalapeno peppers. They usually don’t taste especially spicy, but the juice can be a major skin irritant. I’ve had several miserable nights with burning hands after failing to protect myself from the juice. I always put bags over my hands, but sometimes I still come in contact with it (even a little bit of it tonight…).

Here is my recipe:

  • Water (2 cups to every half cup of grits)
  • Grits (slow-cooking is probably better, but I’ve never used them)
  • Salt
  • Butter (for cooking the vegetables and shrimp)
  • White onion, chopped
  • Jalapeno peppers, finely chopped
  • Garlic, minced
  • Shrimp (ideally uncooked and a larger size, like gulf shrimp)
  • Corn (I forgot to use it this time, but I have in the past; it adds a nice bit of sweetness)
  • Half and half
  • Sharp white cheddar cheese, shredded (or even better: goat cheese, if your wallet will let you use it)
  • Pepper
  • Salt (if needed)
  • Cayenne
  • Smoked chipotle powder
  • Green onions, as a garnish
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