If you’ve never had (or heard of) Shrimp and Grits, it’s one you’ve gotta try! It’s most definitely a southern dish that’s pretty common around here in the Carolinas, but what I’ve found is there are all different ways to make it. Some add flour and broth to the shrimp to make more of sauce, some add all sorts of accompaniments like bell peppers and mushrooms, and some kick things up a notch by using sausage instead of bacon. Now I’m not sure I’ve ever met a Shrimp & Grits dish I didn’t like, but inspired by my friend Valerie’s recipe and after some trial and error I’ve settled on this simple – yet delicious – version below. And by the way, we do think of this dish as a special meal at our house – last year I served it on Christmas Eve, and Valerie often serves it on New Year’s Eve. So hopefully you can find a way to add this recipe to your holiday table as well.
Holiday Team Dinner
Now, before I get into the details of the recipe, I have to share the reason I recently made Shrimp & Grits in the first place – for our Holiday Blog Team Dinner! We are fortunate enough to have the majority of our blogging team located right here in Charlotte. And we love to get together a couple times of year just for fun. So everyone came over last weekend and they brought both their spouse and a dish. Here’s a summary of what we had:
- Pomegranate and Prosecco Cocktails – made by me
- Crispy Smashed Potatoes with Avocado Garlic Aioli – made by Amy
- White Bean Dip – made by me (from my cookbook)
- Kale Salad with Apple, Cranberries and Pecans – made by Kiran
- Asparagus, Tomato and Snap Pea Side Dish – made by Cori (recipe from her mother)
- Shrimp and Grits – made by me (recipe below)
- Homemade Mallomars – made by Shawn
As you can see, it was quite the spread! And since a few in the group have issues with dairy I made a batch of dairy free grits with almond milk (thanks for the recommendation Carrie!). I must also share that while the dessert was absolutely delicious, after a couple Prosecco cocktails we thought the way Shawn made them kind of resembled a certain emoticon. Do you know the one? :) Ha ha – it gave us a good laugh!
Are Grits Whole Grain?
I want to quickly address a question that you may be wondering. A while ago I mentioned on Facebook that grits are not whole grain (which the USDA confirms), and many commenters basically said “say it ain’t so” or indicated they thought all grits were not created equal. BUT – and this is not a good “but” – I just got off the phone with Bob’s Red Mill to once and for all get the low down on grits. So, basically grits start out as whole pieces of corn then before it’s packaged the powder is sifted out just leaving you with particle sized pieces. So technically grits are only partially whole grain – not 100%. And that’s actually the difference between corn meal (which is usually 100% whole-grain) and grits. As you may know, corn meal includes the powder making it more of a flour product whereas grits are just the little pieces.
I personally use Bob’s “Coarse Ground Corn Meal” to make polenta and “Grits” to make, well, grits. The cooking process is very similar though, and I must say the outcome is rather similar as well so I think polenta could be used as a substitute for grits in some cases. So now I know for sure when I choose grits over polenta I am sacrificing a little bit of the whole grain, but I guess I’m willing to take that risk on occasion because Shrimp & Grits are oh-so-good together! :)
So without further ado, the recipe is below and from our families to yours …Happy Holidays!
Shrimp and Grits
For the grits
- 3 cups water
- 3 cups milk I used whole milk
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup grits (not the quick-cooking kind - I use Bob's Red Mill white corn grits which are non-GMO)
- 1 1/4 cup cheddar cheese white, shredded
- 2 tablespoons butter
For the shrimp
- 1 pound shrimp
- 1/4 cup whole-wheat flour
- 3 pieces bacon
- 1/3 cup green onions sliced, plus extra for garnish
- 2 cloves garlic minced
- 1 cup chicken broth
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice freshly squeezed
- 1/4 teaspoon hot sauce or more if you like it hot!
Combine the water, milk, and salt in a medium saucepan over high heat. When the mixture comes to a light boil, gradually whisk in the grits, turn the heat down to low, and simmer for 15 to 20 minutes, or until the mixture has thickened. Be sure to whisk every few minutes otherwise it will stick to the bottom of the pan. Once done, stir in the cheese and butter.
Meanwhile, peel the shrimp and pat them dry. Sprinkle the flour on a plate and dredge the shrimp in the flour until evenly coated, then set aside.
Cook the bacon in a medium saute pan over medium heat until brown on both sides and cooked all the way through. Transfer the bacon to a paper towel-lined plate and crumble.
Remove all but 1 tablespoon of the bacon grease from the pan. With the heat still on medium throw in the green onions and cook while stirring for 1 to 2 minutes.
Add the flour-coated shrimp, minced garlic, and some salt and pepper to the pan and cook for a few more minutes until the shrimp is pink on both sides and cooked all the way through.
Add the broth, lemon, juice, hot sauce, and crumbled bacon to the pan and cook while stirring just until the sauce thickens (another couple minutes) and then turn off the heat.
Evenly divide and spoon the grits onto plates and top with the cooked shrimp and sauce. Garnish with fresh green onions if desired and serve warm.
We recommend organic ingredients when feasible. Cooking times will increase if you double or triple this recipe.