We spent this past weekend at Kruger National Park— a very large and prominent park where Africa’s finest animals roam free. It was spectacular, and I will write soon about our experience.
When you hear shrimp and grits in the same sentence, it doesn’t sound too appealing. Trust me, it is. One of the ways I’ve been spending my time here is cooking. With such a minimal kitchen, it has proven a bit challenging to make certain meals. That said, it’s always fun to try to improvise. The other day, I was watching Food Network when I quickly saw and heard a blurb of ‘shrimp and grits’. My mind reacted similar to when you see someone on TV eating a candy bar, and you suddenly want a candy bar. Or more so, when you watch a movie about dancing or playing a sport, and you suddenly have the urge to do that exact activity. Is that normal, or is it just one of my many quirks?
Nevertheless, I decided in that instance that I would make shrimp and grits for dinner. I surfed the web looking at incredibly indulging recipes. Thinking twice about them, I continued on to a recipe Bobby Flay used in a cook-off. I tweaked a few ingredients and went on my way to the store. Side note – shrimp (aka prawns in South Africa) is as common here as McDonald’s in the U.S. However, it is very expensive.
In the meantime, here is the recipe I created for shrimp and grits.
12 oz shrimp, peeled and deveined
6 slices of lean center cut bacon, sliced into 1/2 inch pieces
6 scallions, chopped finely
½ tsp cumin
1 clove garlic, minced
1 cup polenta
5 cups chicken broth
1 ½ cups sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
2 tbs grated parmesan cheese
3 tbs butter
½ cup low-fat milk
1 tsp crushed red pepper
Salt and pepper to taste
In a medium-sized pot, combine the polenta, and broth. Bring to a boil on medium heat and make sure to stir with a whisk frequently to avoid clumping or burning at the bottom of the pot. In the meantime, cook bacon in a large saucepan at medium-high heat until it are cooked to your liking. Scoop the bacon out of the pan and place on a paper towel laden plate. Keep stirring the polenta. Don’t forget about it! There shouldn’t be much grease. If you ended up using a fattier cut of bacon, pour some of the grease out. With the bacon grease still in the pan, add the scallions and let them sweat. Add the shrimp, cumin, 1 tsp salt, 1 tsp pepper, toss together and let the shrimp cook for about 3-4 minutes. Don’t overcook them or else they will be rough and chewy. Set the cooked shrimp aside while leaving the droppings in the pan. Add 1 cup of broth, and let it simmer in the pan to take on the flavors of the seasoning. Once the polenta boils lightly, take it off the heat. Add cheese, 2 tsp salt, 2 tsp black pepper, the remaining butter, and stir. Add the milk last so that the cheese has time to melt. Keep stirring. It should be a loose consistency. To plate the food, use soup bowls. Pour a couple ladles of polenta in to the bowls. Add the broth sauce, then the shrimp, then the bacon bits. Top with chopped parsley for garnish and enjoy! If you have any questions regarding this recipe, feel free to contact me!