Shrimp and Grits Some Other Day

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January 30, 2013 by caitlinvaclark

I cannot shake my southern food cravings. Not in the slightest. If I could be eating a buttery biscuit right now for breakfast, I would. Fried chicken for lunch, yes please. Perhaps a scoop of banana pudding for an afternoon snack, don’t mind if I do.

But no, no, no. Not only am I on a detox week, I’m in London. (In case you haven’t noticed, my “detox”-ing clearly doesn’t involve any crazy juice cleanses or cabbage soup diets. Instead I just rely on a few days of sobriety and replacing meals out with lightened up home cooking.) Now I never held the insane expectation of finding grits here. But I certainly thought polenta would not be an impossible feat. For those of you who are biting at the bit to finally answer the age-old question, what the heck is the difference between grits and polenta?! Well, worry no more, I have you covered. While very similar, polenta is made from finely ground yellow cornmeal and grits are made from hominy which is a dried white maize. Both are made using a porridge preparation. Traditionally grits are served as a breakfast side and polenta paired with savory dishes and served either in its soft form, or stiffened then fried or grilled.

But alas, back to dinner. Two stores down, and no polenta to be found. I am clinging to the belief that our main grocer was just sold out. Eventually, I will share my shrimp and grits recipe. I’ll ship grits over here if I have to. But for now, I made due with what I had on hand and have a toss up pasta recipe for you. (Yeah, yeah, I know, pasta is not exactly on most people’s diet list, but let’s just go with claiming portion control. And don’t mind the addition of cream. Just ignore that.)

So fine, the shrimp and grits idea went out the window, but we are headed back out of town (to Paris for Chris’ work, boohoo, I know) this weekend, so I needed to use ingredients I had on hand for dinner. In particular, I had a pot of fresh whole grain mustard, purchased at the Maille flagship store, that I wanted to finish up. When you return, you can refill your pot fresh from the pump! So I created last night’s dinner: Creamy Mustard Shrimp and Mushroom Pasta.

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I started with a pancetta base, then used those drippings to sauté the mushrooms.

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Add the yummy chardonnay whole grain mustard and a good glug of white wine, French of course.

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Cook the shrimp and when they are just about done, add back the pancetta, some cream, and season with a hearty crack of black pepper.

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Garnish with a bit of chopped scallions to add a bite to cut through the richness of the cream.

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Creamy Mustard Shrimp and Mushroom Pasta

Serves 4

12 oz. dried pasta

2 oz. pancetta, diced

8 oz. sliced mushrooms

2 tsp. whole grain mustard

1 tsp. dijon mustard

1/2 cup white wine

1 lb shrimp, peeled and deveined

1/3 cup cream

Salt and Pepper

2 Tbs sliced scallions

Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Salt the water and add the pasta. Cook for 8 minutes, or according to the package directions.

Meanwhile, sauté the pancetta in a large skillet over medium heat until crisp, about 5 minutes. Remove and reserve.

Add the mushrooms and cook for 3 minutes without stirring to be sure they brown. Continue to cook for 3 more minutes. Once softened add the whole grain and dijon mustard.

Pour in the wine and add the shrimp. Cook for 5 minutes. Once the shrimp is just about done, add the cream, reserved pancetta, and season with salt and fresh cracked pepper.

Toss shrimp with the pasta and serve garnished with scallions.

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