St. Pierre warns that a “true grits connoisseur will scold you if you suggest that they use instant grits or what are commonly called ‘quick grits.’ ” On the day I had for shopping, quick grits were all I could find – Chicago may be too far north for the real thing. If you can find old-fashioned, slow-cooking grits, do so. Otherwise, the quick grits are pretty good. However, don’t use the instant grits – even I wouldn’t do that.
Spicy Shrimp with Tomatoes and Cheddar Grits
For the shrimp:
2 tablespoons canola or olive oil
1 small red bell pepper, chopped
1 small yellow onion, chopped
1 jalapeño pepper (or other pepper—see Kitchen Notes), finely chopped
1 large clove garlic, minced
3/4 pound uncooked shrimp, peeled and deveined
1 tablespoon Creole/Cajun spice (see Kitchen Notes)
2 to 3 plum tomatoes, coarsely chopped
For the grits:
3 cups water
a generous 1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup grits
1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese (I used extra sharp)
A quick note: Time the cooking of the grits and the shrimp so they’re both done at the same time, based on the kind of grits you use.
Cook the shrimp. Heat the oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium flame. Add bell pepper, onion, jalapeño pepper and garlic and cook, stirring frequently, for five minutes. Be careful not to brown or burn the garlic.
Add Creole/Cajun spice and shrimp, stirring to combine, and cook for two minutes, turning the shrimp halfway through. At this point, the skillet will seem alarmingly dry. Don’t worry. Add the tomatoes and cook for an additional three minutes, stirring frequently. The tomatoes will release their juices; use them to scrape up any browned bits and incorporate them into the dish.
Meanwhile, cook the grits. Bring the water to a rapid boil in a medium saucepan. Add the salt and then slowly stir in the grits. Return to a boil and then reduce heat to low so the grits just simmer. Cook, stirring occasionally, until grits are smooth and thickened—30 to 45 minutes for old-fashioned grits, five to seven minutes for quick grits.