I LOVE SHRIMP & GRITS.
I’m pretty sure I’ve had them for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. I might even have had them twice in one day.
Whenever we are in a true southern food town like Charleston, New Orleans, or Savannah, I seek out Shrimp & Grits. I also seek out She Crab Soup but I haven’t learned to make that at home yet.
A couple of years ago I posted a more elaborate Shrimp & Grits recipe but I can honestly tell you that this more scaled down, basic version has become my new favorite.
This has become one of my Go To weeknight meals when I need food on the table fast.
Here’s what you need:
Shrimp, Grits, Bacon, Onion, Green Onion, Cheddar Cheese, Old Bay Seasoning, Cayenne Pepper, White Wine (optional), Heavy Cream (optional), Salt & Pepper.
(Ha! You can see that I took this photo back when we were installing our new floors…PROOF that this is a great recipe to make when you need dinner quickly because you are tired and/or crazed.)
If you have a proper Southern Mama who will be offended at my Quick Grits, look away. I NEVER EVER use instant grits but I think the quick variety is just fine. They cook in a few minutes and still have a good flavor and creamy consistency.
Not a grit eater? What are you waiting for?
Grits are part of the kernel of corn and similar to very coarsely ground cornmeal. They are also similar to Italian Polenta but to me, grits are white and polenta is yellow.
If you’re still not convinced, be assured that there is going to be cheese involved.
Choose a pan that has high sides as grits tend to splatter and pop (ouch!) as they cook.
Bring 5 cups of water to a rolling boil over medium high heat. Slowly and steadily pour 1 cup of grits in a thin stream into the pot, whisking or stirring as you pour.
Don’t just dump them all in at once or you will have a gloppy mess.
The pot of grits will start to thicken up almost immediately.
Season with salt & pepper.
Turn the heat down to low and let the grits simmer for about 10 minutes while you prepare the shrimp.
Stop by every now and then to give them a stir to be sure they are not sticking to the bottom of the pot.
It’s a good idea to use a long handled spoon to be sure you aren’t getting popped by hot grits.
Cut 3-4 slices of bacon into small pieces and cook them in a large skillet over medium heat until crisp and the fat has rendered out of the meat.
While the bacon is cooking, finely chop 1 medium onion, about 1 cup…
And grate 1 cup of sharp cheddar cheese.
When shrimp is the featured ingredient, I think it pays to get good ones.
I have 1 pound of large, wild caught, pink Florida shrimp but you should be able to find good wild caught shrimp fresh or frozen in your store.
(There is absolutely nothing wrong with frozen shrimp. I keep some in my freezer for quick meals all the time.)
Peel & devein your shrimp and season them lightly with salt, pepper, and a bit of old bay seasoning.
I try not to go overboard with the old bay…just a teaspoon or two should do the trick. It can easily take over the flavor of your entire dish if you get too heavy handed. You can always add more later if you want more of that flavor.
Once the bacon is crispy, remove it from the pan and drain on a paper towel. Hide it somewhere so you don’t eat it all while you cook the rest of the meal.
Add the chopped onion to the bacon grease in the pan and sauté until tender and slightly golden, 5-7 minutes.
It’s a good time to check back in on your grits before you cook the shrimp. You want to be sure everything else is ready to go before the shrimp hit the pan.
The grits should be smooth, creamy, and stirable. If your grits have gotten super thick, you can easily thin them out by stirring in a little water or heavy cream. If your grits are too thin, turn the heat up slightly and cook a little longer.
Add 1 cup of shredded sharp cheddar cheese and a dash of cayenne pepper.
Stir to melt the cheese and turn the heat down to the lowest setting to keep the grits warm.
Back to the pan of onions…
Add the seasoned shrimp and cook quickly, only 2-3 minutes per side.
The shrimp is done when it is a vibrant pink color and the edges just start to curl. Please do not over cook your lovely shrimpies.
You could stop here and have very happy shrimp & grits. OR you could add just a little bit of white wine to the pan (about 1/3 cup) to scrape up all those tasty bits from the bottom of the pan.
Now you have lovely sauce to your shrimp. You could stop HERE…OR you could add just a tiny bit of heavy cream (only 1-2 Tablespoons) to make the sauce even better.
Give the sauce a quick taste and adjust the seasoning of salt, pepper, cayenne, or old bay to your liking.
To serve, put a couple of big spoonfuls of grits into a shallow bowl.
Top with several big, beautiful shrimp in their sauce then garnish with the bits of crunchy bacon and some green onion tops.
If you like things spicy, you can serve a little hot sauce on the side.
We could have this every week and be extremely happy. This is my idea of comfort food at its best!
Here’s the recipe: