A couple years ago while visiting my sister in Charleston, South Carolina, I experienced Shrimp and Grits for the first time. I’ll admit that the large bowl they sat in front of me wasn’t exactly appealing to look at, but the flavor combination was exquisite. I now understood why this was a classic, southern, comfort food. Hearty, creamy, rich and made with love.
Fast forward to my Friday night kitchen cleanse. Before I grocery shop on Sunday afternoon, I plan my meals for the week. I rarely plan for Friday, as we usually get takeout or go out for dinner. Not the case last week. As I culled the fridge for potential ingredients in a Chopped-kitchen kinda way, I found refrigerated polenta, a half bag of large shrimp, some cherry tomatoes and cheese. BING! . . . that magical moment when I tasted Shrimp and Grits for the first time popped into mind! It occurred to me that I could make a version of deconstructed shrimp and grits with this combination!
Folks . . . this is it. This recipes qualifies me as a contender for Chopped . . . I’m convinced. This was so delicious and is going to be one of my regular, go to dishes for the next year. It’s quick and easy, at less than 30 minutes start to finish and only requires two pans for clean up.
This my friends . . . is prepared polenta . . . we have it every other week or so at our house. If you aren’t familiar with polenta, it is to Italians what grits are to the south. Both are made from corn, just processed a little differently. You can prepare polenta so it soft, similar to mashed potatoes or refrigerate it and then slice it and saute it, as I did here.
You can certainly make it from scratch more cost effectively, but this is so convenient!
This recipe can easily be added to . . . if I had some colorful peppers, I would have added them. I used a shredded cheddar cheese because I had it on hand, but other other cheeses could work too. If I had some left over white wine, I would have added about a half cup to the sauce too.
- precooked package of polenta (I used Frieda’s Organic brand found in the refrigerated section of the grocery)
- 1 cup milk
- 1 pound shrimp, peeled
- ¼ cup celery, diced
- ½ large onion, diced
- ½ pint cherry tomatoes, sliced
- ½ cup shredded cheddar cheese
- 4 Tbsp butter
- 2 Tbsp flour
- 2 Tbsp minced fresh parsley
- salt and pepper to taste
- Slice polenta into ½ inch slices.
- Melt a tablespoon of butter in pan on medium heat and saute polenta, flipping once.
- When finished, set aside on a plate and add shrimp.
- Saute lightly just until they turn pink and plump.
- Remove from heat.
- In another pan, melt one tablespoon of butter over medium heat and add celery and onion, cooking until translucent.
- Add remaining two tablespoons of butter and melt.
- Add flour and stir for a minute.
- Add milk and whisk gently until thickened.
- Add cheese and stir to melt.
- Add salt and pepper to taste, along with fresh parsley.
- To serve, I put a tablespoon of sauce on the plate, top with a slice of polenta, cover with several shrimp and cover with sauce. Add some diced tomato to the top and enjoy!