Shrimp & Bacon Grits with Hushpuppies
Growing up, I never much liked grits. In fact, I still won’t outright decide to eat a bowl of grits. The idea actually grosses me out a little bit. Say what you will about me not being a true Southerner (I don’t talk like much of one anyway unless I’m trying to be charming), but there are occasions when I’ve had grits with other food, or forced myself to try a spoonful to see if I still am not a huge fan. The other night I took a leap at trying something I thought I’d heard of before, despite its hominy foundation.
Sometimes I like to cook by feel – I don’t know what I’m going to make, I only know what ingredients I have around the kitchen. Most of the time, this yields pretty exciting results – making it totally worthwhile if one meal in ten tastes like crud. I am also not totally proud when something doesn’t look good but still tastes amazing. For this reason, I’m not usually a fan of trying to impress with a casserole or mix-up type dish. Pasta, on occasion – but it’s hard to mess up pasta.
So looking around, I saw I had a pound bag of large uncooked peel-and-eat shrimp, some bacon, some Egg Beaters, tortilla shells, and some other stuff that probably wouldn’t work for that night. I thought about bacon, egg, and shrimp tortilla rolls, but just couldn’t get excited about it right then. It felt like forcing the shrimp into the equation. I dropped the Egg Beaters & tortilla shells. I started thawing the shrimp in a pot of water and then fried up the bacon. While that was going on, I looked in the freezer and I had some pre-made frozen hushpuppies, so I tossed those in the deep fryer. Checked the cabinets – my roommate had some red-eye gravy and ham flavored instant grits. They were in individual servings, so I grabbed four and a microwavable bowl (Yes, it’s okay to use the microwave and still be a real cook) and prepared those quickly. I sprinkled some cinnamon on the bacon while it cooked – gives it an extra sweetness that contrasts well with the crispyness of the bacon. I didn’t let the bacon get very crispy at all though, really, because I wanted to tear it in pieces, not crunch-break it.
The shrimp thawed, so I pulled them out and dumped them in a small skillet with some olive oil and sprinkled them with Bojangles’ brand french fry seasoning (it’s good on A LOT of stuff) and sauteed them until they smelled like shrimp. Pulled the bacon out to drain on a paper towel, dumped the shrimp into the bacon grease for flavor – not the healthiest thing in the world, but this isn’t shaping up to be a healthy meal. Stirred up the grits pretty thoroughly, and started tearing up the bacon into half-to-one-inch squares and folding it into the grits. Drained the shrimp, removed the tails, and did the same thing with them – folded into the grits. Add some salt and pepper to the mix, light to taste. I drained the hushpuppies on paper towels after that, and the meal was ready to go.
I personally thought my Shrimp & Bacon Grits were delicious, if a little unhealthy. I could have prepared them in more healthy ways, but not for my first try. Brad definitely approved – he came up to me later and I thought we were about to have a serious talk about something, and he said “Mr. Dave, I’ve learned a very valuable lesson about buying things for the house: always keep Dave stocked with bags of shrimp. Holy crap. That was delicious.” I’m paraphrasing, but that was the gist of it.
I am sad I did not take a picture of the meal. Maybe next time! If you try this at home and like it, let me know.
Shrimp & Bacon Grits (Serves 2-3, doubles easily)
- Half-package of Bacon (6-8 strips, thick cut)
- 1lb bag of large, uncooked peel-and-eat shrimp
- 4 servings of Red Eye Gravy & Ham flavored Hominy Grits (Instant or substitute plain grits & a pinch ground Cayenne pepper)
- Bojangles’ French Fry Seasoning
- Extra Virgin Olive Oil (I use an Australian brand that works well for sauteing.)
- Ground cinnamon
That’s it. Sometimes the best recipes are the simplest. Total cost for this meal was around $8. I did hear later that this is like some of the meals they serve in fancy places. Maybe I should work on my plating and open my own restaurant.