Shrimp and Grits is quite possibly my favorite lowcountry meal. Creamy, smooth grits topped with fresh shrimp, and flavored with a sauce with lots of bacon and green onion, and a little (or lot of) spice.
There are many different variations on the classic shrimp and grits. This delicious one-dish meal started as a simple breakfast for fishermen and it has evolved into something a little more refined. You’ll see it on the menu of fine dining establishments throughout the south.
But invariably, shrimp and grits is and should be a simple, easy, and flavorful dish.
Stone-ground grits are one of the keys to really good shrimp and grits. I use these grits. You can also use quick grits, but avoid instant grits like the plague. Stone-ground grits are coarser than other types of grits as they are produced the old-fashioned way, by grinding with a water-turned stone. Different brands of stone-ground grits have different cooking times, some taking up to 60 minutes. It’s best to go by the cooking time on the package. As a general rule, you want to cook them a little longer than the recommended time to achieve supreme creaminess.
I like to cook grits in a mixture of water and milk, add a touch of butter at the end, and mix in some cheese. What type of cheese I mix in is usually determined by what I have on hand. Just about any type of cheese will complement the flavor of grits.
The other key to delicious shrimp and grits is using fresh shrimp, or at least good quality frozen shrimp (not farm-raised shrimp from halfway around the world.) We’re lucky that we live fairly close to the coast (although I would prefer to live much closer) and we probably eat our weight in shrimp every time we head to the coast. There’s nothing like them.
- 2 cups water
- 2 cups milk
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup stone-ground grits, I like white grits
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 1/4 teaspoon white pepper
- 1/2 cup shredded Cheddar cheese
- 1/4 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
- 4 slices bacon, diced
- 5 ounces white mushrooms, sliced
- 1/3 cup diced red bell pepper
- 1 pound shrimp, peeled and deveined
- 2-3 cloves garlic, minced
- 4 green onions, white and green parts divided, sliced
- 1 teaspoon fresh thyme
- salt and pepper
- 1/2 cup chicken broth
- 1/2 cup heavy cream
- 1/2 tablespoon lemon juice
- 1/4-1/2 teaspoon tabasco sauce
- To make grits, bring water, milk, and salt to a boil in a medium saucepan.
- Gradually whisk in grits so that they do not clump. Turn heat to low and cook according to package directions (probably a good 45 minutes for stone-ground or shorter for quick grits.) Stir frequently to prevent the grits from scorching on the bottom of the pan. If grits are getting too thick, you can add more water.
- Once done, turn heat off and stir in butter, cheeses, and white pepper. Keep warm.
- To make shrimp, cook bacon in a large skillet. Remove bacon and set aside. Pour off all but 1 tablespoon of bacon fat.
- Saute mushrooms and red pepper in the bacon fat for 2-3 minutes. Add shrimp, garlic, white parts of green onion, and thyme. Cook until shrimp are pink. Season with salt and pepper.
- Add chicken broth, cream, lemon juice, and tabasco. Simmer for 2-3 minutes. Add green parts of green onion and bacon.
- To serve, scoop grits onto a plate or bowl and top with shrimp mixture.
Note: I like really thick grits as opposed to soupy grits. You can add extra water or milk at the end of cooking to thin them to your taste.