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Sautéed Shrimp and Pancetta with Cheese Grits

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Serves 4

  • by Nadia Arumugam from Fine Cooking
    Issue 119

If you can’t find quick-cooking grits, you can use quick-cooking polenta instead—just be sure to follow the package’s instructions for the correct cooking time and the amount of liquid needed. 

  • 3 Tbs. olive oil
  • 2 small leeks (white and light-green parts only), halved lengthwise, thinly sliced, and rinsed (1-1/2 cups)
  • Kosher salt
  • 2 medium cloves garlic, minced
  • 3-1/2 cups lower-salt chicken broth
  • 1 cup quick-cooking grits (not instant)
  • 4 oz. extra-sharp Cheddar, coarsely grated (about 1 cup)
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 oz. 1/8-inch-thick sliced pancetta, cut into 1/8 x1-inch strips
  • 1-1/2 lb. jumbo shrimp (21 to 25 per lb.), peeled and deveined
  • 1/4 tsp. cayenne
  • 1/2 large green bell pepper, seeded and finely diced (3/4 cup)
  • 1 Tbs. finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

In a heavy-duty 4- to 5-quart pot, heat 2 Tbs. of the oil over medium heat. Add the leeks and 1/4 tsp. salt and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, 4 to 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook, stirring, for another 30 seconds. Add the chicken broth and 1/2 tsp. salt, cover, and bring to a boil over high heat. Whisk in the grits, return to a boil, then reduce the heat to medium low and cook, partially covered, stirring frequently, until the broth has been absorbed and the grits are thick, about 5 minutes. Add the cheese and stir to melt. Season to taste with salt and pepper, remove from the heat, cover,  and keep warm.

In a 12-inch nonstick skillet, cook the pancetta in the remaining 1 Tbs. oil over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, until golden and starting to crisp, about 5 minutes.

Meanwhile, pat the shrimp dry and put them in a large bowl. Sprinkle with the cayenne and 1/4 tsp. black pepper and toss to combine.

Add the green pepper to the skillet and cook, stirring, until softened, 3 to 4 minutes. Add the shrimp and cook, stirring occasionally, until pink and just cooked through, 2 to 3 minutes. Stir in the parsley. Distribute the grits among 4 shallow bowls and serve the shrimp mixture over the grits.

nutrition information (per serving):
Calories (kcal): 670; Fat (g): 29; Fat Calories (kcal): 260; Saturated Fat (g): 10; Protein (g): 53; Monounsaturated Fat (g): 13; Carbohydrates (g): 50; Polyunsaturated Fat (g): 3.5; Sodium (mg): 830; Cholesterol (mg): 300; Fiber (g): 3;

Photo: Scott Phillips

Perfect combo for fall and winter meals. Pancetta and cheese grits contrast with shrimp (or scallops). Easy to prepare once polenta/grits are done.

Made this exactly as written, but found it amateurish. The leeks were wasted, since their delicate flavor was overwhelmed by the cheese in the grits. LIkewise, the flavor of the shrimp was completely overwhelmed by the pancetta. To improve it slightly, I would remove the pancetta and its oil from the pan, and add a little olive oil to saute the green peppers and shrimp. And an onion would have been fine in the grits. I should have known better.

i liked this recipe. easy and flavorful. i did not do the grits so can't opine on that part, but i liked the shrimp. was doubling the recipe and recommend NOT doubling the cayenne. other than that this made for a great dinner

This was pretty good. I used an English extra sharp cheddar, though next time I think just a sharp cheddar will be fine. Timing is a bit off that they have shown so if you are going to cook any veggies to go with it be careful as mine were overcooked by the time I got the shrimp done. Would make this again.

This was relatively easy to prepare and very tasty - looking forward to making it again.

Excellent recipe: delicious, easy to prepare, and beautiful on the plate.

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