Shrimp and Grits Ain’t Just for the South

I lived in the South (South Carolina and Georgia) for about three years, and soon found upon my arrival that they make certain foods there that were completely new to me, yet caused me to wonder how I could possibly ever live life with out them again.  These included pimento cheese, fried green tomatoes, and shrimp and grits.  Obviously, health concerns are not much of a factor to me.  The creamy grits, the salty bacon, the perfectly cooked shrimp – heaven!  And to top it off, it is a dish that is equally acceptable as either breakfast or dinner.  You can’t go wrong!

Shrimp and Grits

Serves 4

  • 1 and 1/2 pounds shrimp, peeled and de-veined
  • 1/2 pound bacon, diced
  • 1 cup sliced mushrooms (I used cremini)
  • 1/2 cup sliced onions (I used baby vidalia)
  • 3/4 cup chicken stock
  • 1/2 cup cream
  • My recipe for Polenta (with or without corn, whatever), made essentially just the same.  If you prefer, substitute course ground white corn meal which seems more true to grits.  I’ll elaborate on this more below.

Place bacon in the freezer for 20-30 minutes.  This makes it much easier to cut as it become less greasy.  Cut up into a small dice.  Put bacon in skillet on stove and cook over medium to medium-low heat.  Cook for about 20 minutes, or until bacon has rendered all of it’s fat.  Remove bacon from pan to use for later, but leave fat in pan.

Cooking the bacon to render out the fat

Increase heat to medium to medium high.  Season shrimp and add to pan.  Cook about 2 minutes per side.  Remove shrimp from pan to use for later.

If pan looks really dry , add some oil.  If not, go ahead and add the onions.  Cook about 2 minutes and add mushrooms.  Cook another 2-3 minutes.  Add chicken stock and reduce for a couple minutes.  Add cream and reduce for several minutes until stock has thickened.  Add bacon, shrimp, and any shrimp juices that have accumulated on the plate.  Taste for any final seasoning.

Place a serving of grits/polenta on plate and top with the creamy bacon shrimp.  Eat up!

My notes

  • Ok, I feel like there is a HUGE battle, raging for years,  about polenta versus grits.  My opinion is they are essentially the same thing – ground cornmeal.  The only variances are the grain (fine, medium, or course) or if the corn meal is made from yellow or white corn. Do note that the corn used is always “field” corn – not sweet corn – that has been dried.  If you get into the subject of hominy or hominy grits, that is a whole other aspect of the grit debate that I’m not getting into today.
  • Normally, I do about a 3:1 ratio of liquid to cornmeal for polenta/grits, but some  prefer more of a 4:1.  Play around with it and see what you prefer.  The brand and texture of the cornmeal might be factors for you.
  • As a traditionalist, I would prefer cheddar for the cheese to finish my polenta/grits with for more “Southern” dishes such as shrimp and grits, and Parmesan for more “Italian” type dishes.  But, it’s not a science.  Try out various cheeses, or just use what you have on hand.
  • After cooking the shrimp, and then the onions and mushrooms, I think it would have been good to deglaze the pan with either some white wine, Madeira, or cream sherry (two of the three of which I had on hand.)  I just got side-tracked and missed the boat.  Next time.
  • Finishing the dish with a little garnish of fresh cut green onions is a nice option, too.
  • If I have lots of polenta left over, I like to have it for breakfast with a fried or poached egg on top.
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5 responses to “Shrimp and Grits Ain’t Just for the South

  1. Your notes crack me up. But anything Italian is always superior.:) Ok, seriously that’s a great recipe. Living in the South has taught me to love grits and stop worrying.

    • Thanks! I keep telling myself I’m going to start making it without cream in order to feel like I’m not eating the most unhealthy dish ever, but I have not been able to keep myself from adding it each time I make it. One day…

  2. I have to admit, the idea of grits completely creeps me out – namely because I picture some porridge style crap at IHOP. But, having visited you in Charleston and having them made from scratch in an upscale restaurant turned me into a fan. I never see shrimp and grits on the menu anywhere in the Midwest (sade face) but I still reminisce about how great they are in the south!!!

  3. I love me some shrimp and grits!! Just had them on Saturday morning. Yum!

  4. I have a bag of Polenta sitting in my cupboard for a year now because I never know what to do with it. Now I do :)

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