A warm and comforting meal is what I crave on cold days like today. The snow is lightly falling and the temperature is in the teens. Sometimes dishes like these take too long to prepare on a weeknight, though. The beauty of this recipe is that it doesn’t take very long, but it tastes like you spent all day on it. It may look like a lot of steps at first, but each step is simple and quick. My favorite part is that you make a quick shrimp stock that gives the grits the most unbelievable flavor. With the help of whole milk and some of butter, of course.
Oh man, when those pats of butter melt into the grits! For a long time I thought I could only get a good plate of shrimp and grits in the southern states, but I’m glad I was wrong about that. Add this recipe to your week nights!
Shrimp and Grits
You can use raw shell-on shrimp and use the entire shell for the shrimp stock or to speed this up on a weeknight, use peeled and deveined shrimp with the tail on and just use the tails for the stock. I used stone ground white grits and they were fantastic.
For the stock
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
tails/shells from the shrimp
1 teaspoon sea salt
3 cups of water For the grits
2 cups shrimp stock
2 cups whole milk
1 cup white or yellow grits
pinch of sea salt
2 tablespoons of butter For the shrimp
1 pound raw shrimp, tails removed and set aside
1/4 cup dry white wine
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
2 small-medium carrots, diced
1 small onion, diced
2 cloves of garlic, minced
2 cups fresh spinach, packed
freshly ground black pepper
juice from 1 small lemon
1 teaspoon fresh thyme
hot sauce (optional)
Make the shrimp stock
Peel and devein shrimp or just remove shrimp tails if using peeled and deveined shrimp.
Heat 1 tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil in a large saucepan, then add shrimp shells/tails. Sauté the shells for a couple of minutes until they turn pink. Add three cups of water and sea salt.
Cook shrimp stock on medium-high without the lid on for about 10-15 minutes or until about 1 cup of liquid has evaporated. You want about 2 cups of shrimp stock. Strain the shrimp stock in a fine mesh strainer and set aside with lid on. Make the grits
Add the whole milk to the shrimp stock and heat over medium heat until it just starts to bubble. Turn the heat to low and add the grits, stirring to combine. Cook the grits, stirring occasionally (more towards the end of the cooking time), until the consistency is just a bit thinner than you want them.
Remove grits from the heat and stir in the 2 tablespoons of butter until incorporated. Set aside until serving time. If they seem too thick when it’s time to serve them up, add a few extra splashes of milk. Make the shrimp
After peeling the shrimp or removing the tail, pour the white wine over the shrimp to marinate while you prepare the rest of the dish.
Add the olive oil to a large skillet and heat over medium heat. Add the onions, carrots and a few pinches of sea salt. Sauté the vegetables for about 5 minutes until they become a bit soft. Add the garlic and cook for another minute. Add the spinach, another pinch of sea salt and stir until it begins to wilt.
Add the marinated shrimp to the skillet in a single layer and the wine the shrimp was marinating in plus another pinch of sea salt, several grinds of black pepper, lemon juice and thyme. Cook for two minutes and then flip the shrimp to cook the other side for another 2-3 minutes. Just until the shrimp is pink. Do not overcook or the shrimp will become rubbery.
Remove the skillet from the heat. Serve the shrimp and vegetables over small mounds of the creamy grits. Serve with hot sauce if you like a little heat.