Shrimp and grits is quintessential South Carolina low country comfort food that's a welcome meal on a cold winter day. For our cheesy version, we use white grits and white Cheddar cheese; if you go with yellow grits, also called polenta, you may wish to use yellow Cheddar cheese. So what's the difference, you ask, between white grits and yellow polenta? Some say the flavor of the white is more delicate; the texture of the yellow a bit more grainy. In fact, the two are vastly different types of corn: white grits are made from hominy, a type of dried corn (or maize), whereas polenta is typically made from flint corn, a corn that has a hard starchy center, thus giving it its grainy texture.
Whichever you prefer, white or yellow, this dish is sure to please!
Shrimp and Cheesy Grits
Adapted from a PCC Natural Markets recipe
4 cups chicken broth
1 cup white grits
1/2 cup white Cheddar cheese, grated (we prefer sharp!)
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, grated
3 tablespoons heavy cream
Sea salt and pepper to taste
1 pound (26-30) shrimp, peeled
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
Charred jalapeño peppers
Bring chicken broth to a boil and carefully whisk in grits, then reduce heat to low. Cook, stirring frequently, until the grits are creamy, about 10-20 minutes. Stir in cheeses, cream, salt and pepper, then cover and set aside.
Heat a large skillet to medium-high and add the shrimp. Cook, turning once, until bright pink and cooked through, about 3 minutes. Add garlic and cook for 1 minute, taking care to not scorch the garlic as it will turn bitter. Add lemon juice and scrape the bottom of the pan to release the flavorful browned bits. (Alternatively, brush shrimp with olive oil and place on the grilled for about 2 minutes on each side. Drizzle with lemon juice before placing on grits).
Divide the cheesy grits among 4 bowls and top with shrimp. Garnish with freshly chopped scallions and charred jalapeño peppers (if you dare!).
Variation: Add 1 cup chopped Andouille sausage to the pan before you cook the shrimp for added Southern yumminess.