With a family who loves to vacation on the Carolina Coast you can bet we eat our fair share of shrimp recipes, including Shrimp & Grits. It’s almost like reciting lines from Forest Gump, boiled shrimp, fried shrimp, pickled shrimp, shrimp & grits….and on and on and on. I love Shrimp & Grits but my one complaint with most that I’ve tried is that they all are very heavy. Don’t get me wrong heavy can be good, but there is a sameness to the rich creamy grits, bacon, and thick juicy shrimp. What I wanted to attempt was still a rich dish but with a light lemony sauce that lifts the shrimp and grits and breaks up the rich flavor. And that’s just what this Classic Southern Shrimp & Grits recipe is. It holds true to the integrity of the dish with a slight zing that only elevates everything allowing it to shine without taking away anything.
To create the sauce you do something I learned from Cooks Illustrated, you brown the shrimp shells and make a broth out of them. I love being able to use those shells. It’s very easy, just pull the shells off before you cook the shrimp. Save them all in a bowl, I take the tails off too, I find it easier to eat the dish without the tails on, but do what you like. Them you simply put the shells in a pan with some olive oil and brown them. Once that is done white wine and lemon juice are added and the shells simmer in the liquid and reduce down to create a thick lemony sauce that goes great with the grits, and the shrimp.
I prefer Ina Garten’s method of roasting shrimp to cook them. The roasted shrimp have an incredible flavor that they somehow lose when boiled. Once you have peeled the shrimp just toss them on a sheet pan and throw them in a 375 degree oven for ten minutes. It’s really that easy. I also love that they don’t take up space on the stovetop, allowing you room to make the grits and the sauce.
- I suggest having the ingredients ready and chopped before starting. The grits and the bacon mushroom topping cook quickly and at the same time. It makes it easier to have everything organized and ready to go when cooking a meal like this.
- 2 lbs 16-20 count shell on shrimp
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- kosher salt
- black pepper
- the shells and tails from the 2 lbs shrimp
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 1 C white wine
- 1/2 C water
- juice of 1 lemon
- 2 tbsp unsalted butter
- 5 slices bacon, chopped
- 5 green onions, sliced
- 1 pkg mushrooms (3.5 oz or so) I used shiitake but you could use baby bellas too
- 1 C yellow stone ground grits (high quality grits are recommended here)
- 3 C chicken broth
- 1/4 C half and half
- 1 tsp kosher salt
- 1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
- 4 tbsp unsalted butter
- Start by preheating your oven to 375 degrees.
- Separate the shrimp from their tails and shells. Put the peeled shrimp on a large sheet pan and toss them with 1 tbsp olive oil, 5 cracks of black pepper, and 1/4 tsp kosher salt. Set the pan aside.
- In a large skillet or saute pan heat 1 tbsp olive oil over medium heat. Once shimmering and hot add in the shrimp shells and tails. Allow them to brown stirring occasionally. Once the majority of the shells are white you know they are mostly browned. About 5-7 minutes. Add in the clove of garlic and cook for thirty seconds. Then add in the white wine, water and the lemon juice. Bring to a simmer and allow this to cook until the liquid is reduced. About 15 minutes. Once the liquid is reduced and thick strain the liquid through a strainer into a bowl. Add the liquid back to the pan and add in 2 tbsp unsalted butter. Whisk until incorporated and keep warm on low heat until the rest of the ingredients are warm.
- Put the shrimp in the oven and cook until they are all pink and no longer opaque. Usually ten minutes.
- While the shrimp are cooking get started on the toppings. In a large skillet over medium heat add in the bacon and cook until browned. Drain the bacon on a paper towel lined plate. Add in the mushrooms and green onions. Cook about two minutes and then set aside with the bacon.
- While the bacon is browning start on the grits. Heat 3 C of stock in a medium saucepan, once it comes to a boil, whisk in the grits. Turn the heat down to low and continue to whisk occasionally. Allow the grits to cook and thicken about five minutes. Add in the butter, salt, red pepper flakes and half and half. Whisk until the butter is melted and everything is incorporated.
- Spoon 1/4 of the grits into a bowl, top with 1/4 of the bacon and mushroom mixture. Put an equal amount of shrimp into each bowl and spoon some of the sauce over the top of everything. Serve warm. Makes four hearty servings.