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Shrimp and grits recipe

July 16, 2008|By BEVERLY MILLS, with ALICIA ROSS

1 can (14 1/2 ounces) reduced-sodium, fat-free chicken broth, divided use
1 1/4 cups water
1/2 cup half-and-half
3/4 teaspoon salt, divided use
3 slices already-cooked bacon (see cook's note)
3/4 cup quick (not instant) grits
2 tablespoons butter
1 small onion (for about 1/2 cup finely chopped) (see cook's note)
2 teaspoons bottled minced garlic

3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 pound already-peeled medium raw shrimp, defrosted if frozen (see Cook's note)
juice from 1/2 lemon
hot pepper sauce, a few drops to taste, optional
1 cup grated sharp cheddar cheese, or more to taste

Pour 1/2 cup chicken broth into a 1-cup measure and set aside. Pour the remaining broth into a 4-quart saucepan along with the water, half-and-half and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Cover the pot and begin bringing it to a boil over high heat. While the broth mixture comes to a boil, crisp the bacon in the microwave according to the package directions. Remove from the microwave and set aside.

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When the broth mixture boils, reduce the heat to medium, and, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon, slowly add the grits to the pot. Stir well. Reduce the heat to low (or just enough heat to maintain a steady, low boil). Cover the pot and cook, lifting the lid to stir frequently, until the grits have thickened, about 10 minutes. Be sure to stir the pot well, scraping up any grits that stick to the bottom.

While the grits cook, begin melting the butter in a 12-inch skillet over low heat. Peel and finely chop the onion. Add the onion and the garlic to the skillet, and raise the heat to medium. Cook, stirring from time to time. Pour the flour and the remaining 1/4 teaspoon of salt into a 1/2-gallon zipper-top plastic bag. Add the peeled shrimp, and toss the bag to lightly coat the shrimp with flour mixture. Add the shrimp to the skillet and cook stirring as necessary, until pink and just cooked through, about 4 to 5 minutes. (Remember to stir the grits!)

Add the reserved 1/2 cup chicken broth to the skillet and stir, scraping up any brown bits. Reduce the heat to medium-low. When the mixture has thickened slightly, about 1 minute, remove the skillet from the heat. Add the lemon juice and stir well. Season with a few drops of hot pepper sauce to taste, if desired.

The grits should be the consistency of warm pudding. If they are too thick, stir in additional water, a tablespoon at a time, until you get the desired consistency. Remove them from the heat, and add the cheese, stirring until it melts. Taste and add more salt, if necessary and, if desired, a bit more cheese (and water to thin as necessary). To serve, crumble the bacon slices to make bacon bits. Spoon the grits into the middle of four dinner plates. Spoon the shrimp mixture over the grits. Sprinkle some bacon bits on top to garnish. Serve at once.

Serves 4 generously.

Cook's notes: Already-peeled shrimp are usually readily available frozen, but if you can't find them, look for the "easy peel," which come deveined with the shell split. Or regular unpeeled works, too. Just be sure to peel the shrimp before starting the recipe.

We like to buy already-cooked bacon, available alongside raw bacon in the meat case. Or you can microwave your own before starting the recipe.

Three to four green onions can be substituted for the small onion.

If you have leftover grits, they can be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to four days. Microwave to reheat, stirring in additional water a couple of tablespoons at a time as necessary to reach the desired consistency.

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