This dish takes its inspiration from Cajun cuisine. A trio of chiles—árbol, ancho and jalapeño—gives the shrimp and grits a powerful kick. If you like your shrimp extra hot, double the amounts of the spices. Better still, buy small shrimp in their shell and toss them with quadruple the spices; just take care licking your fingers when you peel and eat the shrimp.You can certainly serve the grits straight from the pot if you don't have time to chill and fry them.
Great Comfort Food Recipes
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 tablespoon ground cumin
1 cup quick (not instant) grits
6 bacon slices
3/4 teaspoon pure ancho chile powder or hot paprika
1/4 teaspoon ground árbol chiles or cayenne pepper
1 pound medium shrimp, shelled and deveined
4 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
2 to 3 green or red jalapeño chiles—stemmed, seeded and thinly sliced
8 small scallions, thinly sliced diagonally
1 1/2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
1/2 cup chicken stock or canned low-sodium broth
How to Make It
Generously butter an 8- or 9- inch square baking dish. In a medium saucepan, bring 3/14 cups of water to a boil. Stir in the grits and 1/2 teaspoon salt and bring to a simmer over low heat. Cook, stirring occasionally, until all the liquid is absorbed, about 10 minutes. Pour into the baking dish and chill until firm, at least 1 hour. Invert the grits onto a work surface and cut into quarters, then halve diagonally to make 8 triangles.
In a large heavy nonreactive skillet, cook the bacon over moderate heat until crisp. Transfer the bacon to paper towels to drain; crumble the bacon.
Reheat the bacon fat in the pan. Add the grits triangles and cook over high heat until golden, about 4 minutes per side. Transfer to a platter and keep warm.
Wipe out the skillet and heat the olive oil in it. In a large bowl, combine the cumin, chile powder, ground chiles, 1/4 teaspoon salt and the black pepper, then add the shrimp and toss to coat. Add the shrimp and garlic to the skillet and cook over high heat until the shrimp are just pink, about 2 minutes. Add the jalapeños and cook until crisp-tender, about 2 minutes. Add the scallions and bacon and cook for 1 more minute. Stir in the lime juice and chicken stock and heat through. Spoon the shrimp and sauce over the grits cakes.
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