Shrimp and Grits is one of the quintessential southern dishes – right along with fried chicken, biscuits and collard greens. This combination of creamy grits and perfectly cooked shrimp evokes fond memories of Charleston or Savannah and is the perfect main event for brunch, lunch and dinner!
There are lots of variations of Shrimp and Grits – sometimes there’s a thick sauce, sometimes there’s smoked sausage, or peppers and onions, or garlic. I prefer to keep my version simple and let the shrimp and the grits speak for themselves.
A note about cooking shrimp: homemade shrimp is often tough and fishy so people shy away from it. The solution to tough and fishy shrimp is to take it off of the flame when it firms up a bit and turns a pale pink. Shrimp turns tough and rubbery when it’s overcooked.
- 2 Cups Milk
- 1 Cup Water
- 1 Cup Chicken Stock
- 2 Tbs Butter
- 1 ¼ Cup Quick Grits
- 1 ½ tsp Salt
- 1 tsp Freshly Cracked Black Pepper
- 1 ½ Cup Cheddar Cheese, Shredded
- 2 Slices Thick-Cut Bacon, Cooked and Crumbled
- 1 Tbs Reserved Bacon Grease
- 1 Tbs Butter
- 1 lb Medium Shrimp, Peeled, Deveined, Tails Removed
- 1 Green Onion, Sliced into Thin Rings
- Juice of 1 Whole Lemon
- In a medium pot, bring milk, water, chicken stock, and butter to a boil over medium high heat. The milk will overflow the pot when it boils if you let it so keep an eye on it and use a 3 quart pot for this.
- As soon as the liquid comes to a boil, add the grits, salt, and pepper and reduce heat to medium low.
- Stir the grits pretty much constantly until they are thick and creamy – about 5 – 10 minutes. The grits will thicken more when you add cheese and as they cool.
- Once the grits are thick and creamy remove from heat and add half of the cheese.
- Stir the cheese into the grits until it melts fully and then repeat with the remaining cheese.
- Heat the bacon grease and butter in a non-stick skillet over medium heat.
- Once the pan heats up, add the shrimp, season with salt and pepper, and toss frequently until they are pale pink all the way through. Be careful not to overcook the shrimp
- Squeeze the lemon juice over all of the shrimp and remove from the heat.
- Place grits on a plate and top with shrimp. Finish with a sprinkling of green onions and crumbled bacon!
To quickly defrost shrimp, place it in some cold water for about a half an hour. There’s no need to buy the more expensive defrosted shrimp as frozen shrimp defrosts under cold water in a flash.
Buy frozen shrimp for this meal. It’s less expensive and the shrimp at your grocery store’s seafood counter was almost definitely frozen before they thawed it and put it in the window.
While there are slight differences, southern grits and Italian polenta are essentially the same thing – they’re coarsely ground corn meal. If you like polenta, give grits a chance!