Recently, I’ve missed the South. While I love New York, I’ll always have a special pace in my heart for North Carolina—my family, friends, ‘cue (I swear to all things holy, if you tell me that the best barbecue is something other than vinegar-based, I’ll slap the shit out of you), and road trips to the coast. New York City saw a heat wave last week that rivaled temperatures of what I can only imagine Las Vegas feels like in July with added humidity. And, when I texted one of my girlfriends of the “feels like 109˚F” forecast, she said, “Oh, you should come home. It’s only 84˚F here.” Whatajerk.
Anywho. During my early Lewis years, my family and I vacationed on the South Carolina coast and frequented my brother’s hometown of Charleston. And, during those early Lewis years, I was a horrendous eater. I didn’t like the taste of most everything that wasn’t meat or potato related, nor did I approve of the texture of anything that wasn’t mushy. Well, except mushy peas. Those could burn in hell.
Where am I going with this?
Grits. Grits were a staple in my childhood, especially those laced with cheddar cheese.
Cut to: Shrimp & Grits. I crave this dish at least once a month. Good thing Momma Lew likes to send me stone-ground grits. Otherwise, I’d have to buy some… Amirite? (Thanks, Mom!)
Shrimp & Grits
For the shrimp:
1 lb. medium shrimp, peeled and deveined
Extra-virgin olive oil
salt & pepper
For the grits:
2 cups stone-ground grits, cleaned of grit
1 large orange or red bell pepper, diced
¼ cup pancetta, diced
1 medium shallot, diced
½ cup sharp cheddar cheese, grated
⅓ cup Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, grated
2-3 Tbsps. heavy cream
Diced scallions and Texas Pete hot sauce, for serving
1. Prepare the grits according to directions; once cooked, add cheeses and cream, stirring to combine; season with salt and pepper.
2. Meanwhile, heat 2-3 Tbsps. oil in large nonstick skillet; add shallot and pancetta, cook for 5 minutes until soft; add pepper; continue to cook and caramelize about 10 minutes more; season with salt and pepper; reserve.
3. Prepare shrimp: heat 2-3 Tbsps. oil in large nonstick skillet to medium-high heat; add seasoned shrimp to pan and sauté 3-4 minutes, until cooked through.
4. Assembly: Place grits in bottom of bowl; top with pepper mix; top with shrimp and chopped scallions; serve with Texas Pete on the side.