Monday, January 17, 2011

Brunch Anyone?...Shrimp And Grits

A legendary morning repast in the Carolina Low Country, shrimp and grits is said to have begun as a fisherman's breakfast, created by shrimpers using the days catch. Original recipes called for sautéing the small local shrimp in butter and serving the seafood as a topping for creamy, stone-ground grits. Today, "New Southern" variations abound, as creative cooks embellish the classic dish with everything from bacon and mushrooms to fresh truffles.

I know it's hard for Northeners to appreciate grits but think of it in terms of polenta, just white!

Serves 6.


For the grits:

1 cup white grits

4 1/2 cups water, plus more as needed

1 1/4 tsp. kosher salt

4 Tbs. (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, at room


2/3 cup shredded medium-sharp cheddar


1/3 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese

Freshly ground pepper, to taste

1 tsp. Tabasco (optional)

For the shrimp:

1 1/2 lb. large shrimp, peeled and deveined

Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste

2 Tbs. all-purpose flour

6 oz. bacon slices, cut into 1/2-inch dice, fried

until crispy and fat reserved

1/3 lb. white button mushrooms, sliced

1/3 cup diced red bell pepper

2 garlic cloves, minced

1/3 cup sliced green onions, white and light

green portions

2 plum tomatoes, diced

1/3 cup chicken stock

4 tsp. fresh lemon juice

1 1/2 tsp. Tabasco sauce


To prepare the grits, in a saucier or Dutch oven over medium heat, combine the grits, the 4 1/2 cups water, salt and 2 Tbs. of the butter and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low, cover and simmer, stirring occasionally, until tender, 45 to 60 minutes. If the grits become too thick, add more water. Remove from the heat and stir in the remaining 2 Tbs. butter, the cheddar and Parmigiano-Reggiano cheeses, pepper and Tabasco.

Meanwhile, prepare the shrimp: Pat the shrimp dry with paper towels. Put the shrimp in a shallow bowl, season with salt and pepper and toss with the flour to coat evenly.

In a fry pan over medium-high heat, warm 2 Tbs. of the bacon fat. Working in batches, brown the shrimp until almost cooked through, about 2 minutes. Transfer to a plate.

Return the pan to medium-high heat and warm 2 Tbs. of the bacon fat. Add the mushrooms, bell pepper, garlic, salt and pepper and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, 5 to 7 minutes. Add the shrimp and accumulated juices, the bacon, green onions, tomatoes, stock, lemon juice and Tabasco. Cook, stirring frequently, until the shrimp are opaque throughout and the vegetables are heated through, 2 to 3 minutes.

Divide the grits among 6 bowls and top with the shrimp mixture. Serve immediately.

Don't forget the biscuits!

From Williams-Sonoma Kitchen.


  1. On our November trip to Charleston the one thing that we never got around to eating was shrimp and grits!! I'll have to try your recipe sometime for breakfast although it's hard to think of shrimp as breakfast food!

  2. Try it for dinner then, that's how a lot of Southeners have it. I, like you, couldn't have it for breakfast, but a late brunch, sure!

  3. We can't buy grits here - but anytime I visit the southern US shrimp and grits are a must have. Thanks for the recipe - next time I cross the border I should remember to buy grits!

  4. This is a FAMOUS restaurant in Chapel Hill:
    and they say, has the best shrimp and grits anywhere. I haven't been yet, but will keep you posted...maybe we will go when you come up?

  5. Yum! If you had added celery, that recipe could have come from New Orleans.
    I have imposed grits on my franco-american offspring. You have to start young with these things. For my son, grits are a natural, my daughter only partakes in mini portions. My husband had to be converted late, so he only accepts grits cooked thick like polenta. I don't complain.



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