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Gritty delight

February 2, 2021

To be honest, I really didn’t think I was gonna like this much. Kat and I usually trade off with dinner prep when I’m home for a stretch, so tonight was my night. I actually am quite fond of cooking and love a good challenge, which is another way to call ‘making something for dinner that my family will actually enjoy.’

I pulled open the freezer to see what raw materials I had to work with. In this age of Covid, we try to keep our larder stocked as fully as we can to minimize frequent trips to the grocer. So when I found the jumbo frozen shrimp and package of center-cut bacon, I needed to connect the dots to put something square on our oval kitchen table.

I nudged the computer mouse on the desk to wake up our computer, then entered ‘shrimp bacon recipe’ into Google. Although I have a small bookcase full of cookbooks from which to reference, I am still a neophyte when it comes to consistently pulling tasty ideas out of them. So as I scrolled down the returns, I somehow added ‘cheesy grits’ to the search. Don’t know how I thought of it. Probably from watching too many episodes of ‘Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives’ on the Food Network.

Boom! There was the recipe: “Southern Shrimp with Cheesy Grits.’ Photos, too. With the little crustaceans all plump and pink and just slightly seared swimming in a shallow pool of sauce formed by a healthy scoop of cheesy grits, whatever that was. I must say it did look appetizing.

However, who of us have ever attempted to concoct a dish–it could be a cake, a meatloaf or a glazed ham–only to find the product of their efforts looks and tastes less like a facsimile and more like a faux pax?

As I said, I wasn’t so sure about this one. I like shrimp, sure. And bacon. Who doesn’t like bacon? Crazy people, that’s who.

But grits? That mushy yellowish corn meal stuff that kinda looks like rice cereal? Who eats rice cereal except babies cutting their first teeth? Man, I had lots of questions.

My dear old mom did at least teach me that polenta is basically like grits. I like polenta alright–I am Italian–but I figured grits are to polenta as Olive Garden is to authentic Italian food. Did I really want to risk it?

Sure I did. One of the blessed traits of Kat and Drew is their gracious acceptance of 99% of what I may try to make in the kitchen and pass off as edible. Although Drew turned up his nose at the mention of grits, Kat was much more warm to the idea. So off I went to the store to get the one damn ingredient that I didn’t already have–grits.

Thusly procured, the meal was surprisingly simple to put together. Make grits. Mix in a lot of butter, cheese and cream. Fry bacon. Fry shrimp in bacon grease. Pour a bunch of fresh stuff over the shrimp like lemon juice, Worcester sauce and garlic. A handful of scallions and parsley. A couple shots of hot sauce, because, well…it says ‘Southern shrimp.’ Maybe some fairy dust. Spoon it over a big dollop of grits. Top with crumbled bacon. Ta-dah!

Or as Guy Fieri would say, “Welcome to Flavor Town!”

Kat loved it all, especially the cheesy grits. Drew loved…the shrimp. (I’ll take that from a 15 year-old.) I just thought it was delightful. Amazing what one can do simply following a recipe. Even for one that calls for grits.

Delight for dinner

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