Holy hangover, Batman.
That’s what I was saying last weekend after enjoying a smiiiidge too much wine that Saturday night. My tolerance is still super low since getting pregnant a year and a half ago, and I forget that sometimes. A glass or two of wine these days is all I can handle and still function well the next day. But hangovers happen to the best of us. Whenever I overindulge in the alcohol department, all I want the next day is COMFORT FOOD. I mean, don’t we all? It’s a hangover given. Usually it involves pizza or fries or any other carb-coma-inducing yumminess. It also usually involves me not lifting a finger in the kitchen. Take out is where it’s at on days like last Sunday.
However, after drinking 498492923 cups of water and taking the baby for a leisurely spring walk, I felt much better. So much so that I mustered up the energy and motivation to whip up dinner. Despite my overall improvement, comfort food was still on the menu. Salad just wasn’t going to cut it.
I had some shrimp in the fridge and a container of grits in the pantry that I had been meaning to try. This was my very first attempt at homemade grits (I know!), and it is safe to say that I finally get the hype. They are comfort food at its best, for sure. Creamy, buttery, cheesy…and sweet potato-y? Hah. That last one may throw you for a loop, but trust me when I say that the combo of sweet corn grits, roasted sweet potato, and sharp cheddar cheese is heavenly. All that butter doesn’t hurt either. To quote my sister, who happens to be a chef: “There is no such thing as too much butter when it comes to grits.” Amen.
Not only were the grits an awesome surprise, but the shrimp came out pretty great too, especially considering that I made it up as I went along. I just went with my gut on flavor combos. I love sweet potato and chipotle together. I love chipotle with cheese. Well, really, I love everything with cheese. And bacon. I figured I really couldn’t go wrong with the dish when those things were involved.
And I was right. The spice of the chipotle was AWESOME with the sweetness of the shrimp and cheesiness of the grits. And the bacon just sealed the deal. As usual. I was feeling comforted and content by the time this bowl was empty. I practically licked it clean.
Don’t knock it til you try it!
1 lb peeled/deveined shrimp
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 garlic cloves, minced or pressed
2 teaspoons chipotle chili powder
Juice of 1 lime
4 strips bacon
2 tablespoons honey
2 cups milk
1 cup quick-cooking grits
1 cup mashed sweet potato
8 oz shredded sharp cheddar cheese
4 tablespoons butter
Salt and pepper, to taste
Chopped scallions and parsley, for garnish
Place the shrimp in a resealable plastic bag and add in the olive oil, garlic, chili powder, and lime juice. Season with salt and pepper and massage things around until well mixed. Marinate for 20 minutes (this is a great time to prepare the grits!).
After 20 minutes or so, heat a large skillet over medium-high heat and crisp the bacon. Remove from pan, crumble, and set aside.
To the drippings, add the shrimp, marinade, and honey. Cook for 2 minutes, or until the shrimp are just starting to curl and turn pink. Remove from heat.
Bring the milk and 12 oz of water to a boil in a medium pot. Gradually whisk in the grits and stir until incorporated. Reduce the heat to low, cover, and allow the grits to cook for 5-10 minutes. Once they are tender, whisk in the sweet potato, cheese, and butter. Stir well to combine and then season, to taste, with salt and pepper. Cover and keep warm until ready to serve.
Spoon the grits into serving bowls and then top with the shrimp, bacon, scallions, and parsley. Drizzle everything with some of the shrimp pan juices. Serve immediately!