Simple. Scrumptious. Shrimp.

If you’re a fan of shrimp that’s slightly spicy and you want it quick, this Sautéed Shrimp and Pancetta with Cheese Grits is for you. Russ double-starred this recipe it was so good. It all comes together in about 15 minutes—unless of course you have to behead, shell and devein the shrimp as I did. But we buy them whole on purpose so that we have the makings for seafood stock sometime in the future. Just bag the stuff and freeze until ready to make homemade stock—you won’t regret it.

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. With an inclination for polenta over grits, that’s what we made. And since I had a few ounces of two different cheddars, I incorporated both a white and yellow cheese.

The one instruction that baffled us was cutting the pancetta into 1″ strips. First of all it doesn’t stay in strips and we think a more uniform dice would distribute the pork more evenly around the dish. Truly doesn’t matter, the taste is there…

Serve with a side of collard greens or sautéed spinach.


  • 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 chicken broth, preferably homemade
  • 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.

Recipe by Nadia Arumugam from Fine Cooking

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