How To Make Shrimp And Grits
Shrimp and grits may just be the perfect combination of flavors and textures. That’s why I chose this iconic recipe as one of the dishes for my southern menu at Talon Lodge in Sitka, Alaska. (Read about Scott’s and my Alaskan adventure. It was incredible!)
Why Shrimp and Grits? Is it a southern thing?
Creamy, cheesy grits and meaty, flavorful shrimp–what’s not to like? It’s got protein, carbs, fiber, and flavor for days. Shrimp and grits is a Southern favorite, with good reason.
This popular dish is thought to have gotten its start in Charleston, South Carolina, about a quarter of a century ago. Local shrimp were abundant, and someone discovered that frying them up in bacon grease and serving them with grits made a delicious breakfast. I agree 100%!
The dish also became a favorite in Georgia. However, it didn’t really catch on throughout the South and the country as a whole until the 1980s. Shrimp and grits was a local dish that went regional and then national as a star of Southern-style cuisine.
I’ve learned that we owe the popular launch of this dish to a chef named Bill Neal at Crook’s Corner restaurant in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. Born in South Carolina, Neal had enjoyed shrimp and grits along with other local favorites in Charleston. As a chef, he also has popularized Hoppin’ John and other South Carolina specialties.
Neal and other ambassadors of Southern cooking have proven that you don’t have to be from the South to enjoy its cuisine. I proved that all over again by bringing my take on this iconic dish to Sitka, Alaska!
Grits vs. Grits Cakes
Last year, I shared my shrimp and grits cakes recipe with you all. That recipe serves up the shrimp piled high on fried grits cakes, a favorite with my family. We love those fried cakes so much that I’ll serve them up with just about anything. I even cut them into triangle-shaped appetizers for dipping in sauce.
However, sometimes the comfort of warm carbohydrates in a bowl is just the thing. In that case, I like to make creamy cheese grits to spoon the shrimp and gravy over.
How to Make This Dish
Few things are simpler than making grits, which are basically just white or yellow corn meal boiled to the consistency of cream of wheat. (White corn grits are typically milder in flavor.)
Quick grits, which are instant grits made from finely ground corn, cook in no time. On the other hand, all grits are quick-cooking grits: the regular medium-grind corn takes only 10 minutes.
In this recipe, you cook grits and add shredded cheese at the last minute, because really, what isn’t better with cheese on it?
As for the “shrimp” part, it’s super simple, too. If you don’t like to peel and devein shrimp–the hardest part–you can start with ones that are already peeled and deveined.
I include Tasso ham or chorizo sausage to amp up the flavor. Just cook it up in a large skillet until crispy. Then add and sauté the vegetables: onions, green pepper, and garlic.
Once the vegetables are translucent, add white wine to deglaze. Deglazing picks up all the tasty caramelized bits from the bottom of the pan and brings their rich flavor into the sauce of your dish. It’s magic!
Next, you add the seafood star of your shrimp and grits. Sauté the shrimp for about 45 seconds, or until pink. Don’t overcook it.
Finally, add the cream and seasoning to make your gravy. You can loosen, or thin out, the gravy with shrimp stock if it gets too thick.
When the shrimp and gravy are ready, spoon the mixture over 8 bowls of grits. Garnish with the sliced green onions.
What do you serve with shrimp and grits?
I love to serve this dish with crusty bread. If you’re serving it for lunch or dinner, you could add a big Italian salad.
Can shrimp and grits be frozen?
Odds are that you won’t have much in the way of leftovers of this delicious dish. If you do have any left over, I recommend storing them in an airtight container and eating them up quickly. You can freeze shrimp and grits, but it’s best to freeze and reheat the two parts separately since they will reheat at different rates.
Enjoy! Let me know in the comments how your shrimp and grits turn out.
Stacy Lyn’s Shrimp and Grits
- 4 cups water
- 1 tablespoon Kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
- 1 cup stone-ground grits
- 3 tablespoons butter
- 2 cups white cheddar cheese shredded
- 1 pound shrimp peeled and deveined
- ½ cup Tasso, chorizo, or thick-cut bacon Tasso or chorizo preferable
- ¼ cup Onions diced
- ½ green bell pepper diced
- 1 large garlic clove minced
- 1 tablespoon white wine
- 1 ½ cups heavy cream
- Shrimp stock if needed to loosen gravy
- ½ cup scallions sliced
- Kosher salt and pepper to taste
- Bring water, salt, and pepper to a boil. Add the grits, stir, and reduce heat to a simmer. Add cheese and stir until incorporated. Don’t put the cheese into the grits until you are about to serve them.
- Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add Tasso, chorizo, or bacon until crispy. Add onions, green pepper, and garlic and cook until translucent. Deglaze with the white wine. Add shrimp and sauté for about 45 seconds, or until pink. Slowly add the cream. Loosen if the gravy looks too thick. Season with salt and pepper.
- Divide the grits among 8 bowls, then top with the shrimp mixture. Top with scallions and serve.