Shrimp & Grits [Polenta]
Updated: Aug 26, 2020
When I got the polenta, I wondered what the difference between grits vs. polenta was. I decided to look it up and make Shrimp & Grits -- Kardea Brown's recipe from the Food Network.
I learned there was a difference between grits and polenta (see below), but I bought a 5 lb. bag of polenta, so that's what I used anyways. :)
What is the difference between grits vs. polenta?
"Yes, both grits and polenta are made from ground corn, but the main difference here is what type of corn. Polenta, as you can probably guess from the color, is made from yellow corn, while grits are normally made from white corn (or hominy)."
"Anson Mills founder Glen Roberts is quoted in the piece describing the difference as he sees it: while both grits and polenta are made from stone-ground cornmeal, “Southern grits and Italian polenta are traditionally made from two vastly different types of corn. How many times it’s milled and the fineness of the grind also differ. And then there’s the taste and texture.
...Most grits in the South are traditionally made from a class of corn called dent corn whereas in Italy, most polenta is made from a class of corn called flint corn, which holds its texture better. Why do these different classes matter? Because of the different type of corn, grits can even come across as almost mushy while polenta is often more coarse and toothsome.
I think ultimately the confusion comes down to your time in the grocery store. You’ve got a polenta recipe or a grits recipe and you’re shopping for it and you see nothing in the store that says “grits” and perhaps nothing in the store that indicates “polenta.” That’s because you’re really searching for stone-ground coarse cornmeal and this is where it becomes tricky.
But in reality, the differences are relatively slim. Buy coarse cornmeal at the store and call it a day. And if you’re out on the town and you like polenta, try ordering grits next time (and vice versa)
Making a roux
In the recipe, you mix flour with oil/fat to make a sauce. I didn't realize it until after, but I was making a roux. If I had realized the recipe calls for making a roux, I probably would have been scared to try the recipe. Haha! :) Here is a link with more info about roux -- there are 5 kinds!
"Roux is the foundation of some of your favorite dishes: gravy, macaroni and cheese, chowders and gumbo. Learn the best way to make it, along with our best storage tips."
I didn't have grits as noted above :) or fresh onions. I just used onion powder. I made a smaller portion than the recipe.
What I used:
- A few shrimp
- Bacon (1 piece)
- 1 or 2 tablespoons of flower
- Garlic powder
- Onion powder
- Hot water (not shown)
- Salt to taste (not shown)
In the original recipe, you cook the bacon and onions and then cook the shrimp and everything in the bacon fat plus oil. I had frozen my cooked piece of bacon and didn't have onions, so I skipped those steps.
You put the pan on medium-high. It says to test how hot the oil is by putting in a little flour -- it should sizzle. You batter the shrimp with a combo of flour and garlic powder. Then you add the shrimp and bacon back in and cook together.
My roux ventured to the dark brown side compared to the photo on the website. Haha! :)
Then you add a little hot water to the pan to make a sauce. You let it cool down and thicken. I added a little more flour to thicken it up more.
Then I added it to the polenta -- not grits. :)
RESULT: Success. :)
We are good at this. I didn't give my attempt a full ! because my roux ventured to the dark side -- however it was very flavorful and tasty.
One of these days I'll try it again with actual grits, fresh onions and everything -- and watch my roux! :)
Give it a try! We are good at this!