When I met brilliant British food writer and cookbook author Felicity Cloake earlier this year, she was just returning from a barbecue trip to the United States. I was genuinely impressed that she had embraced one of the cornerstones of American cuisine. In her gorgeous (Nigella Lawson-approved!) new cookbook, The A-Z of Eating: A Flavour Map for the Adventurous Cook, she revisits another classic American dish from the south, Shrimp and Grits with Bacon and Parmesan. In a small and delicious deviation from the dish’s American origins, Felicity uses Parmesan cheese in her recipe, earning it a spot in the savory Umami chapter of the book. How do you boost the taste of your shrimp and grits? Let us know! —Kristina
Why Felicity loves this recipe: I love grits because they’re basically like pimped polenta — if carbs are your thing, then you can usually trust America to do them bigger and better than anywhere else. It’s comfort food extraordinaire… like a big cheesy blanket, topped with sweet nutty prawns and savoury bacon. The best I’ve ever had, weirdly, despite having traveled round the South several times, are at the Lockhart in London; I’ve only had more traditional, plain grits in the States… but trust me, I’ll keep on looking!
Shrimp and Grits with Bacon and Parmesan
Seafood and cheese is one of those combinations which the cognoscenti all know to be deeply wrong, but is happily quite the done thing down in Mississippi. Here the nutty sweetness of the prawns bounces beautifully off the salty savoury flavour of the cheese and bacon, with the creamy corn as a soothing backdrop.
If you can’t find grits (and they are available online), you can substitute cornmeal or polenta, although the flavour won’t be quite the same.
– 500ml (2 cups plus one tablespoon) chicken stock
– 250ml milk (1 cup plus 1 tablespoon)
– 100g (1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon) stoneground grits (see intro)
– 1 tablespoon double cream (heavy cream)
– 40g (1.5 ounces) Parmesan or Grana Padano, grated
– 2 rashers (strips) of smoked streaky bacon, finely chopped
– 10 large raw prawns, peeled and deveined, but tails left on
– A small bunch of chives
1. Combine the stock and milk in a medium saucepan and bring to a simmer, then pour over the grits, whisking vigorously to combine.
2. Turn down the heat to low and simmer for about 20–30 minutes, until the grits are thick and creamy, stirring regularly to make sure they aren’t sticking.
3. Once they’re ready, take off the heat and stir in the cream and cheese, then season to taste. Keep warm while you cook the topping.
4. Heat a dry frying pan over a medium-high heat and fry the bacon until crisp and beginning to brown. Scoop out with a slotted spoon and add the prawns. Sauté until pink on both sides, then scoop out and add to the bacon (if you leave them in the hot pan while you assemble the dish they will continue cooking).
5. Divide the grits between two shallow bowls. Top with the prawns, then scatter the bacon around them. Finally snip over the chives to serve.
About Felicity: Felicity Cloake is a Fortnum & Mason Cookery Writer of the Year 2016, the writer behind the Guardian’s column “How to Cook the Perfect,” a New Statesman columnist, and author of Perfect: 68 Essential Recipes for Every Cook’s Repertoire (Fig Tree, 2011), Perfect Host: 162 easy recipes for feeding people & having fun (Fig Tree, 2013), Perfect Too (Fig Tree, 2014) and The A-Z of Eating (Fig Tree, 2016). You can find her on Twitter and Instagram.