Shrimp and Grits

We’re eating healthy again! Sort of. Matt is in a weight loss competition among volunteer fire department members. So he is counting calories.  And I don’t want him to shed way more than me so I’m going to make a little more of an effort. Sadly, that means less ice cream, and more moderation.

You wouldn’t think that shrimp and grits is a low-calorie option. But I pulled this recipe out of a recent Cooking Light magazine, and supposedly one serving is less than 300 calories!  And Matt loves shrimp and grits, as a rule, so I was excited to make it for him.  The only issue was that I did have to do a bit of actual grocery shopping for it. I did have the the half-and-half hanging around, and the green onions from the farm share. Polenta makes yet another appearance. The shrimp is from a frozen 2 pound bag from Costco that hangs out in the freezer. The mushrooms I did buy fresh.

Shrimp and Grits with Mushrooms
Adapted from Cooking Light
Serves: approximately 6

  • 3 Cups water
  • 1 Tablespoon butter
  • 3/4 cup uncooked quick-cooking grits or cornmeal polenta
  • 1.5 ounces grated Parmesan cheese (about 3/4 Cup slightly packed in)
  • 5/8 teaspoon kosher salt, divided

  • 3/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, divided

  • 2 center-cut bacon slices, chopped

  • 1 Cup chopped white onion
  • 1 Tablespoon minced garlic
  • 8-ounces of presliced mushrooms (I used 4 ounces white mushrooms and 4 ounces exotic mushroom mix)

  • 1 pound medium shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper (if you’re afraid of spice, lower the amount to 1/4 teaspoon)
  • 1/4 Cup half-and-half
  • 2 tablespoon all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 Cup fat-free, lower-sodium chicken broth

  • 1/3 Cup chopped green onions

Bring 3 cups water and butter to a boil in a small saucepan. While heating, make sure most ingredients are chopped, measured, and ready.
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Heat a large nonstick pan and cook bacon until crisp.  While this is cooking, you could whisk the grits/cornmeal into the boiling water and cook, stirring frequently, about 5 minutes, until smooth and desirable.
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Remove from heat. Stir in 1/4 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon black pepper and cheese. Cover to keep warm.

A note about the cheese: the original recipe said 2 ounces, about 1/2 cup. But the size of your grated Parmesan must make a huge difference, because with my trusty kitchen scale I was well over the 1/2 Cup mark on my bowl and had just passed 1 ounce.  It seemed like a lot of cheese to me, so I stopped there.  I didn’t miss the parmesan flavor too much, more so on the second day reheat, so I would say 1.5 ounces is a safe bet.
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Add white onion, garlic, and mushrooms to pan; cook 8 minutes or until mushrooms begin to brown and give off liquid, stirring frequently. (At this point you could sautee a vegetable for the side, like green beans with garlic and red pepper like I did).
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Add shrimp and red pepper; cook 3 minutes.
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Combine half-and-half and flour in a small bowl, stirring with a whisk until smooth. A note about the flour: you will see from my final product that the sauce is not quite as thick as I would  like. I used the original recipe, which called for 1 tablespoon of flour, but it did not really thicken up. I suspected that I should have mixed in more flour. My suspicion was proven correct based on this website at least, so I updated the website to specify 2 tablespoons.

I suppose the texture of my sauce could have been affected by the fact that I used lower-protein Better Than Bouillion Chicken Base–which, for the record, I bought because Cook’s Illustrated did a chicken stock/chicken broth test and rated this one of the top choices!
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Add broth, flour mixture, remaining 3/8 teaspoon salt, and remaining 1/4 teaspoon black pepper to pan; bring to a boil. Cook 2 minutes or until thickened a bit.
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Top with green onions. Serve shrimp mixture with grits and green beans.
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Another great thing: it only took about 30 minutes to make this pretty fancy-looking meal!
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