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Timing Is Everything When It Comes To Shrimp And Grits

shrimp and grits in a bowl
shrimp and grits in a bowl - Brent Hofacker/Shutterstock

Savory, cheesy, and creamy with a kick, shrimp and grits is undeniably an ultimate comfort food. Darling of upscale Southern restaurant menus, it is surprisingly one of the newer contributions to down-south fare, its modern iteration having only been introduced to the American palate in the 1980s, and its growth in popularity is often credited to Crook's Corner Restaurant in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. But since its emergence onto the culinary scene as a simple breakfast food, the all-day favorite centered around the subtle, neutral flavor of grits elevated with the salty taste of cheese has inspired countless recipe variations and flavor pairings, recently cementing itself as a staple, not only in restaurants but in home kitchens, too.

While the key to preparing an outstanding plate of shrimp and grits is very much the ingredients, it is just as much -- if not more -- the timing. Yes, the mistimed preparation of your recipe's main components can be the difference between a delectable Southern entree worth writing home about and a total shrimp-and-grits fail.

Read more: 13 Tips To Make Your Shrimp Taste So Much Better

Getting The Timing Right With Your Shrimp And Grits

cooking shrimp in pan on stove
cooking shrimp in pan on stove - Gmvozd/Getty Images

When it comes to successful shrimp and grits, understanding the relationship between the two featured foods is imperative — if the grits are the creamy background base of the dish, the spicy shrimp is the star. So, for your dish to be successful, knowing when to cook your shrimp is everything. You'll want to prepare your grits first. For this dish, go with stone-ground grits instead of a quick-cooking counterpart to offer the most flavorful dish. Additionally, to maximize your flavor, try chicken broth in equal parts with your water (don't substitute completely, as you risk overpowering your dish).

Then, to avoid the rubbery texture of overcooked shrimp, start cooking your shrimp when your grits are tender (about the last 10 minutes of cooking). This way, you won't overcook them while waiting for the grits. Now, most shrimp and grits aficionados swear by cooking your shrimp in bacon grease to up the rich, decadent ante. After you pan-fry your bacon slices, saute' your shrimp in the leftover grease and watch your shrimp take on a whole new dimension of salty, smoky flavor. And there's no need to waste that good bacon — use it as a garnish. Vegetarian? Sauté your shrimp in a few tablespoons of butter instead. When your shrimp have turned pink, they are ready to add to your grits.

Ways To Elevate Your Shrimp And Grits

blue cheese on a cheeseboard
blue cheese on a cheeseboard - Nicolamargaret/Getty Images

A wide array of delectable flavors pair well with shrimp and grits, and can provide just the tweak you need to take this dish to the next level. If you're looking for an extra vibrant kick and a hint of saltiness, add blue cheese crumbles to your grits and toss your cooked shrimp in a mixture of butter and hot sauce to make buffalo shrimp and grits. To take it one step further, pan-fry your shrimp first — the extra crispiness will add a unique texture to the dish.

Shrimp and grits also taste incredible when infused with Asian flavors. Marinate your shrimp in soy saucemiso paste, ginger, and garlic to elevate with a fantastic twist. You can also easily substitute one cup of coconut milk for regular milk in your grits and add Chinese sausage to your shrimp for a deliciously unique flavor profile and extra comfort food heartiness.

Read the original article on Daily Meal.