Shrimp and Grits - Sauteed shrimp with bacon, garlic, and green onion served over creamy, stone-ground grits with cheddar cheese.
This great old southern classic, Shrimp and Grits, is an example of low-country cooking at its absolute best. Using readily available local ingredients to produce something so mouth-watering, so delicious that it almost takes your breath away.
The recipe is thought to have originated as a breakfast dish along the Carolina coast. Most people say that it was generally unknown outside of the low country until Craig Claiborne wrote an article about it in 1985 for The New York Times.
It may have taken an introduction from The New York Times to bring the dish to the national consciousness, but it has certainly become a sensation on its own. Even Bobby Flay, best known for open-flame grilling and southwestern cuisine, says in Bobby Flay Cooks American, "If there is one dish that makes me want to march down Fifth Avenue waving the American flag, it's shrimp and grits."
Now, there are about as many recipes for this southern classic as there are cooks and this is my version. Others include mushrooms in the recipe and some prefer to serve over plain grits instead of cheese grits.
There are so many variations on the classic combination that one of the most famous of southern chefs, Nathalie Dupree, wrote an entire cookbook on the subject. Browsing through the pages on Amazon, I see so many variations I want to try!
I've enjoyed Shrimp and Grits in many restaurants, but the best I've ever had were at Blackstone's Cafe in Beaufort, South Carolina. Maybe I was especially hungry that morning, but that serving of Shrimp and Grits was one of the best things I've ever eaten in my life. If you ever find yourself in that area between Savannah and Charleston, be sure to stop by Blackstone's. You'll be glad you did!
How to Make Shrimp and Grits
Combine the shrimp with the lemon juice and Tabasco. Set aside while preparing the grits and sauce.
Chop the onion, green pepper, garlic, and scallions and set aside.
Prepare the grits and hold over very low heat until needed.
In a large sauté pan over medium heat, cook the chopped bacon until brown but not yet crisp.
Add the onion, green pepper, and garlic. Cook for about 5 minutes or until the vegetables are tender.
Add the scallions, sprinkle the flour over the mixture and continue cooking for an additional 5 minutes.
Stir in the stock or broth and salt. Cook for a minute or two until sauce is thickened.
Add the shrimp to the sauce and cook until shrimp are opaque – no more than three minutes!
To serve – ladle a generous amount of grits into a shallow bowl and top with shrimp and sauce.
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Shrimp and Grits
For the shrimp:
- 1 pound medium shrimp peeled and halved lengthwise
- Juice of a lemon
- 6 dashes Tabasco sauce
- 4 slices bacon chopped
- 1 small onion finely chopped
- ¼ green bell pepper finely chopped
- 1 clove garlic minced
- 3 tablespoons chopped scallions
- 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1 cup chicken broth or stock
For the cheese grits:
- ½ cup quick-cooking grits not instant
- 2 cups water
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper
- couple dashes garlic powder
- 4 ounces sharp cheddar cheese grated
- Combine the shrimp with the lemon juice and Tabasco. Set aside while preparing the grits and sauce.
For the cheese grits:
- Bring the water and salt to a boil in a smallish saucepan.
- Add the grits to the boiling water using a whisk. Using the whisk ensures that you don’t get lumps in your grits.
- Now cover the pot, lower the heat to a simmer and cook the grits according to the package directions.
- When the grits are done, stir in the black pepper and garlic powder.
- Next, add the grated cheddar and stir until well blended.
- Hold the finished grits over a very low heat until needed.
Finish making the shrimp and sauce:
- In a large sauté pan over medium heat, cook the chopped bacon until brown but not yet crisp.
- Add the onion, green pepper and garlic. Cook for about 5 minutes or until vegetables are tender.
- Add the scallions, sprinkle the flour over the mixture and continue cooking for an additional 5 minutes.
- Stir in the stock or broth and salt. Cook for a minute or two until sauce is thickened.
- Add the shrimp to the sauce and cook until shrimp are opaque – no more than three minutes!
- To serve – ladle a generous amount of grits into a shallow bowl and top with shrimp and sauce.
- This makes two generous servings of Shrimp and Grits. Multiply as needed.
Nutrition information is calculated by software based on the ingredients in each recipe. It is an estimate only and is provided for informational purposes. You should consult your health care provider or a registered dietitian if precise nutrition calculations are needed for health reasons.