Shrimp, Grits, and Substitutions

by Elissa

Out of the blue a few days back, Josh mentioned that he hadn't had grits in a while and would welcome the opportunity to eat some. As a Californian, I did not grow up eating grits, but I've been an enthusiastic convert and I especially love shrimp and grits. After a short hunt, I found this recipe (it was the first Google result and had a 5-star rating from 103 reviewers on Food Network--always a good sign). It featured cheese grits and plenty of bacon. So I added it to my weekly meal plan and headed out to the grocery store. Have I mentioned that I do most of my grocery shopping on Friday nights? I go after the kids are in bed, the store is not crowded, and I can browse to my heart's content. My 25-year-old self is now shuddering in horror.

Of course, shortly after I got home from the store, I realized that I forgot to buy grits. So I made a second trip to the store during naptime on Saturday, only to find that the store did not have grits.  My understanding is that grits, cornmeal, and polenta are all basically the same thing, so I bought a bag of medium grind cornmeal and hoped for the best.

Bacony shrimp and grits with roasted brussels sprouts

Bacony shrimp and grits with roasted brussels sprouts

The cornmeal worked out great, so if you can't find grits I think it's a more than adequate substitute.  The recipe does not give a lot of detail about how to cook the grits--I whisked them into boiling water and gave them a stir every 2-3 minutes, and ended up with a good result.  The grits were a bit stiff, so you might want to consider adding a little extra liquid. I used some of this Arkansas pepper bacon that we had gotten as a gift, and the extra black pepper gave things a nice kick.