This shrimp and grits is a low country classic and this version is a family favorite. You’ve never had grits this creamy!
I wouldn’t feel right, though, if I didn’t give you fair warning….If you are on a diet, STOP READING HERE! Share on Facebook, email to your friends that aren’t dieting, and Pin on Pinterest, but after that — turn away from this recipe!
Okay, I feel better about myself after saying that. On to the shrimp and grits.
In every way imaginable this is my own recipe. I have made it many times, refined over the years, and truly had to measure the ingredients to be able to share. Sara, who is my partner in crime on this blog, (and my daughter) told me to be sure to share that she refuses to order shrimp and grits in a restaurant because she knows it will never measure up to mine. I guess all kids love their Mama’s cooking, but I’m just telling you what she said.
The recipe is for (4) portions. I took the pictures when I was preparing for 8, so if it looks like a lot — that’s because it is.
Heat the half and half just until it starts to boil and then stir in the grits. Bring back to a boil and then reduce heat to simmer.
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Now I will tell you that a good sturdy whisk is a tool you don’t want to be without when cooking a pot of grits. It is worth its weight in gold for getting out lumps. Cover and cook 6-7 minutes, stirring occasionally. When the grits are done, stir in the cheese and red pepper.
For the cheese I like to use a good sharp white cheddar. Yellow is fine too, but I just like keeping the grits a clean white color if possible. Another great option is to serve the shrimp over Gouda Grits with Cajun Spice. We love it both ways!
Cayenne pepper is of course, an ingredient you can certainly adjust to your taste. I like to use enough to give it a small kick, but not overpower. There is something magical to me about the flavor combination of cayenne and cheddar. Think cheese straws…. yum! Our recipe for those are here.
Another fun, seafood appetizer is Smoked Fish Dip. It stirs up in just a few minutes and will bring back memories of your favorite beach bar.
After the grits are done you can keep them on warm if you’ll be serving fairly soon. Otherwise, turn the heat off and it’s fine to re-heat right before you eat. Just be prepared to stir like crazy and add a bit of water to reach the consistency you were at before.
I like to allow about 1/3 lb. shrimp per person, but honestly this is a rich recipe, so 1/4 lb. is probably plenty, unless you’re serving football players. We’re starting out here with shelled and deveined shrimp. Need to know how to do that? Maybe another post to follow, but I do use this handy little tool.
I season my shrimp lightly with Creole or Cajun Seasoning. This Tony Chachere’s Original Creole Seasoning is our family favorite. It is pretty salty, so keep that in mind as you shake it on.
While the shrimp is soaking up all that goodness, cook your bacon. I say I’m cutting my bacon into “lardoons”. I don’t know if that’s a proper chef term or not, but it’s basically slicing your bacon like so….
When you put it in the skillet and break it up, the heat hits, it cooks up really nicely. This is a much easier way to end up with “bacon bits” than cooking full slices of bacon and then crumbling.
Okay, we’ve cooked this about halfway between medium and medium high until it smells and looks divine….. Fish it out with a slotted spoon onto paper towels to drain.
Can you just smell it? We could just stop here, right? Oh, no……………. WAIT!!!!! We still need shrimp………….. We’re going to get to the shrimp. I promise.
But first, you must drain off the most of the bacon grease. Leave a little in the pan, and try to leave that brown goodness at the bottom.
Cook the shrimp in the same pan, using that little bit of bacon grease. The amount of time is going to be determined by the size of your shrimp, but I caution you to stand over the shrimp and watch them very carefully so they don’t get overcooked and tough. I’m speaking from the experience of a person who does not like to stand idly EVER. Don’t get distracted. About 2 minutes per side is a good rule of thumb.
Remove the shrimp and set aside while you go on to the next step.
Saute’ the green onions and garlic in the pan until slightly limp, then remove and set aside. Deglaze the pan with the broth and wine. My preference is a mixture, but if you only have broth that would be fine. Stir in the juice of a half lemon (fresh is so much better than that bottled stuff) and 2 tablespoons of this stuff from Lea & Perrins. It’s funny, but my sister-in-law, Susan, makes a mean shrimp and grits too and I thought I saw her using this in hers years ago. I guess I dreamed the whole thing, because she says she never has. By that time I had incorporated it into my recipe though. So, it stays.
Add a little more of the Creole Seasoning and then thicken slightly with about 3-4 shakes of this type flour, if you have it. I don’t like the sauce to be as thick as gravy, but just give it a little “body”. If you have just plain flour, dissolve about a tsp. in 1/3 cup water and stir into your sauce and simmer a few minutes.
Add the shrimp and onion/garlic mixture in just long enough to heat. You don’t want the shrimp to cook anymore.
Boom! Divide the grits evenly onto four plates. Top with the shrimp mixture, bacon and the reserved green onions. We think it’s the best shrimp and grits ever!
If you need an appetizer for your guests/family before the shrimp and grits, here’s two that are both southern-inspired and light enough not to spoil their appetites: Ritz-Carlton Spicy Pecans have a little bit of kick or classic Southern Cheese Straws are perfect with a cocktail or a glass of wine or beer before dinner.
Shrimp and Grits — The Only Recipe You Will Ever Need
- 6 cups half and half
- 1 and 1/2 tsp salt
- 1 and 1/2 cups quick cooking grits not instant
- 4-6 ounces grated sharp cheddar cheese
- 1/2 tsp. cayenne pepper
- 1 and 1/3 lb. shrimp preferably large shelled and deveined
- 1 tsp. Creole or Cajun seasoning divided in 1/2
- 8 strips bacon
- 1 bunch green onions chopped (including white part) divided
- 1 clove garlic minced
- 1/3 cup white wine
- 1/3 cup chicken broth
- Juice of 1/2 lemon
- 2 Tbsp. Lea & Perrins Chicken Marinade
- 3-4 "shakes" of Wondra flour
Heat half and half and salt just until it starts to boil.
Stir in grits, return to boil, whisking to prevent lumps.
Reduce heat to simmer and cover.
Simmer 6-7 minutes until thickened (stirring occasionally).
Stir in cheese until melted, and add cayenne pepper and keep warm.
Sprinkle shrimp with 1/2 tsp. Creole seasoning and set aside
Cut bacon into small pieces
Cook bacon in skillet over med to med-hi heat until done & drain on paper towels; set aside
Drain most of bacon grease from skillet
Cook shrimp in same skillet until done about 2 min. per side and set aside
Cook 2/3 onions and garlic in same skillet until limp and set aside
Deglaze pan with wine/broth mixture
Add fresh lemon juice, worcestershire sauce and remaining Creole seasoning
Thicken sauce slightly by adding flour and simmer about 3-4 minutes
Add shrimp and onions back to skillet just until mixture is heated thoroughly
Divide grits evenly among 4 plates
Top with shrimp mixture, bacon bits and remaining onions
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