Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hours, 00 minutes
· 1 1/2 pounds medium shrimp, peeled, halved lengthwise, and deveined if you wish
· Juice of 1 lemon
· Tabasco or other hot pepper sauce
· 1 1/2 teaspoons salt or more to taste
· 1 1/2 cups stone-ground grits, not instant or quick-cooking
· 6 thick slices bacon, chopped
· 1 small onion, finely chopped
· 1/4 cup finely chopped green bell pepper
· 1 garlic clove, minced
· 1/2 cup thinly sliced scallions
· 2 tablespoons unbleached all-purpose flour
· 1 cup chicken stock
· 1 to 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
· 1 cup (about 1/4 pound) grated medium to sharp Cheddar cheese
· Tabasco or other hot pepper sauce
· Preparation
· Combine the shrimp with the lemon juice and a couple of generous splashes of hot pepper sauce. Let sit while you begin the grits and gravy.
· Make the grits in a large heavy saucepan, first bringing 6 cups of water and 1 teaspoon of the salt to a boil. Whisk in the grits a few handfuls at a time. (They will bubble up initially.) When you have added all the grits, reduce the heat to a very low simmer and cook over low heat for 35 to 40 minutes, stirring occasionally at first and more frequently toward the end.
· While the grits simmer, get the gravy under way. Fry the bacon in a medium skillet over medium heat until brown but still limp. Stir in the onion, green pepper, and garlic and continue cooking until the onion and pepper are limp, about 5 minutes. Add the scallions, sprinkle the flour over the mixture, and continue sautéing for 5 minutes longer. Stir in the stock and remaining salt and cook for 5 minutes longer. Remove from the heat while you finish the grits.
· When the grits are thick and creamy, stir in as much of the butter as you wish, followed by the cheese. Add a splash of hot pepper sauce and additional salt if you like. Cover the grits while you finish the gravy.
· Return the gravy to medium heat and stir in the shrimp. Cook until the shrimp are opaque throughout, about 5 minutes. Serve immediately, mounding the grits in large shallow bowls or on plates and covering them with shrimp and gravy.