Shrimp and Grits (adapted from Good and Cheap by Leanne Brown)
For the grits
1 cup grits or polenta
4-1/2 cups chicken stock
1/2 cup grated Monterey Jack cheese
3 scallions, white and light green parts chopped
For the shrimp
1 pound shrimp, peeled and deveined
1 T vegetable oil
1/2 large onion, peeled and chopped
1/2 fennel bulb, trimmed and chopped
1 bell pepper, trimmed and chopped
1 garlic clove, minced
1 chili, minced (choose something hotter or milder depending on your taste, or add a pinch of chili flakes)
2 plum tomatoes, chopped
1. Bring the stock to a boil in a medium non-stick pot, and whisk in the cornmeal while stirring constantly. Turn the heat down to low, and continue to whisk vigorously every couple of minutes or so while you work on the rest of the dish and let the grits bubble away. The grits should take about 15-30 minutes total...they're flexible.
2. Pat the shrimp dry with paper towels.
3. Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat and add the oil. When it's hot, add the shrimp in a single layer. Cook just a minute or so on each side, trying to get a little color on the shrimp. Then transfer to a plate and set aside.
4. Add the onion, fennel, and bell pepper to the skillet and turn the heat down to medium. Add a bit more oil if needed to keep the vegetables from sticking. Saute until the vegetables are just starting to soften 3-4 minutes. Add the garlic and chili, and cook for another couple of minutes. Add the tomatoes, and cook for another 3-4 minutes until the tomatoes release their juices and the vegetable mixture is looking saucy. Season generously with salt.
5. When the grits are looking just about ready, whisk vigorously and then whisk in the cheese and scallions along with a bit of salt. Let cook another couple of minutes to melt the cheese and soften the scallions.
6. Stir the shrimp into the vegetable sauce, and cook until they are hot and cooked through.
7. Serve the shrimp and vegetables over the grits.