One of the most fun things about cooking for me is the efficient use of leftover ingredients--making something from nothing, as Ice-T says. I had the pulp of three big tomatoes and some cilantro left over from salsa the other night, so I decided to try a paella inspired shrimp and grits. I made the grits with chicken stock and a pinch of saffron, and cooked a chorizo, along with the shrimp (both of which I keep on hand in the freezer), and I made the roux with bacon fat instead of butter, since I have lots on hand thanks to the OG's love of a couple of rashers at breakfast.
The result was middling. The saffron didn't come through in the grits, perhaps overwhelmed by the cheese, or because it was not good quality (it was the first pinch from a supermarket brand, which I have never bought before). And I think I should have added some paprika to the shrimp. But the original is a winner. I adapted my recipe from Epicurious, omitting 3 cups of milk, along with 4 cups of water in cooking the grits, replacing the cream with half and half, and eschewing a recommended parmesan cheese garnish.
7 cups water
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups old-fashioned grits
3 cups grated cheddar cheese (12 ounces)
6 tablespoons unsalted butter
6 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 medium green bell peppers, seeded and chopped
2 medium onions, chopped
1 jalapeño, seeded and finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
Freshly ground black pepper to taste
2 cups half and half
Two 14 1/2-ounce cans diced tomatoes
2 pounds large shrimp, peeled and deveined
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley, for garnish
Combine water and salt in a large pot. Bring to a boil. Whisk in the grits. Reduce temperature to medium low. Cover and simmer, stirring occasionally, for about 15 minutes, until thickened. Remove from heat. Stir in the cheese. Cover and reserve.
While the grits are cooking, melt the butter in a large skillet, over medium heat. Add the flour, stir and cook until the mixture is golden, 3-5 minutes. Add the peppers, onions, garlic and jalapeno, salt, pepper and garlic, and cook until softened, about 5 minutes. Whisk in the cream, then add tomatoes and 2/3 cup of water. Add the shrimp and cook, stirring occasionally, until the shrimp are opaque, 5 minutes. Serve over grits.Add salt and pepper, hot sauce to taste. Garnish with parsley.The blog referenced above, introduced me to this song, which is an excellent thing to have playing in the background while you're cooking, Little Milton's "Grits ain't Groceries."