I looooved this challenge from the moment I heard the ingredients. It had some of my family’s absolute favorite foods. Husband loves shrimp, daughter loves bacon, I love corn and maple syrup. I love maple syrup so much I put it in my icecream. And I always recommend organic – the real stuff, because it’s just so much better than anything else.
I wanted each of the ingredients to really shine, so after thinking about the dish, it made sense to let each of them stand on their own. I had thought about wrapping the bacon around the shrimp, but figured that was a bit of a cop-out and frankly, I already did it in another challenge. (don’t get me wrong, it would have been insanely delicious, but wanted to spread my wings a bit). I chopped up fresh corn, steeped it in milk and maple syrup until it was smooth and then, added a finely chopped nut mix of walnuts and pecans mixed with a bit of oil. It gave it a little nutty aspect that I think really gave it a kick. Then I made a bacon/onion base, topped with shrimp and put it on top of the grits. Now, a recipe I found wanted the bacon/onion mix to steep in lager/beer – we didn’t have it and so I used gingerale (which is considered an acceptable substitute) and it was just fine!
Verdict? Three thumbs up keeper! Husband did a lot of nodding and eating… (that’s good!)… said it was flavorful, shrimp was great and he said it’s definitely a keeper. Daughter dove right in and was so surprised she liked the grits. She actually ate two platefuls of it and licked her plate. You can’t beat that! I liked it a lot. Next time I’ll grate the corn for the grits so the texture is finer, I’ll add more bacon (you can’t have too much bacon in my book) and I’ll put the shrimp in just a wee bit later. It was fine, but a little too overcooked for me. And, I’d use beer as the base. I bet it would have given it a malty aspect.
Shrimp and Corn Grits
- 5 large ears of corn, shucked and coarsely grated on a box grater (2 cups pulp and juice)
- 1/4 cup milk, plus more for stirring
- 1 teaspoon maple syrup
- Salt and freshly ground pepper
- 1/8th cup of finely chopped walnuts and pecans, mixed with 1 tlb olive oil.
- 6 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 3 ounces bacon, chopped (next time I'll use 4 or 5)
- 1/2 large sweet onion, thinly sliced
- 1 cup fresh corn kernels (from 2 ears)
- Salt and pepper
- 1 pound shelled and deveined large shrimp
- 1 cup lager (I used ginger ale too and it was fine!)
- MAKE THE GRITS In a saucepan, simmer the grated corn and juices with the 1/4 cup of milk over moderate heat, stirring, until thick, 4 minutes. Season with salt and pepper and fold in the chopped pecans and walnut mix; Then add the maple syrup and cook on very low to basically keep it warm.
- MAKE THE SHRIMP Melt 4 tablespoons of the butter in a deep skillet. Add the bacon and cook over moderately high heat, stirring, until lightly browned, about 5 minutes. Add the onion and corn, season with salt and pepper and cook until crisp-tender, about 5 minutes. Add the shrimp and cook, stirring, until they just begin to curl, about 3 minutes. Add the lager and bring to a boil. Simmer, stirring frequently, until the shrimp are cooked through and the liquid is slightly reduced, about 3 minutes. Swirl in the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter. (here I might add the shrimp last and cook just for 4-5 min)
- Whisk a little milk into the grits so it’s the consistency of polenta; heat until warm. Spoon the grits into shallow bowls, top with the shrimp sauté and serve at once.