The first time I ever tried Shrimp and Grits was in April, 2004, at a small, dark-paneled restaurant in Charleston, South Carolina. The main course was unforgettable: sweet, succulent shrimp and creamy grits, topped off with heavy cream, crispy bacon, and chopped chives. I reproduced this magic the moment I returned home.
You can make Shrimp and Grits no matter where you live. Grits (coarsely-ground hominy) are available even in Northern supermarkets. Look for them in the cereal aisle. You want “quick-cooking” (not “instant”) grits.
You can buy shrimp at your local market, too. I use medium-large shrimp, already deveined and peeled, and with the tails still attached. In a pinch, you can use frozen shrimp.
Here’s the step-by-step:
Give the pot a stir, let the water return to a full boil, and then cover the pot. Reduce the heat, and simmer, while stirring occasionally, until the grits transform themselves into thick, creamy pearls — about 7 minutes.
Hint: Grits with butter and maple syrup are delicious for breakfast!
Now deglaze the pan by tossing a big splash (1/4 cup) dry French or Italian vermouth into the skillet. Let the vermouth bubble and reduce while you scrape up, with a wooden spatula, all the delicious bits that are stuck on the bottom of the pan.
Shall we plate-up this Southern sumptuousness?
Then arrange half the shrimp along the edge of the plate, with the tails facing out. Or, if you are a free spirit, you can arrange the shrimp with some tails facing out, and others facing in. Whatever floats your boat, baby.
Plate the remaining grits, sauce, and shrimp.
Then light some candles, and open a bottle of chilled Sauvignon Blanc or Vermentino.
I also hope you’ll post a comment below.
Here’s a copy-and-paste version of the above:
Shrimp and Grits for Two
Kevin Lee Jacobs (www.kevinleejacobs.com)
Ingredients for 2 large servings
3 cups water
1 cup quick-cooking (not “instant”) grits
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
2 tablespoons olive oil
6 strips bacon, chopped
1/2 small green bell pepper, diced
1/2 small onion, diced
20 medium-large shrimp, deveined and peeled, with tails attached
1/4 cup dry French or Italian vermouth
1 cup heavy cream
A few grinds black pepper
3 long chive stems, diced
Cooking the grits — Over high heat, bring the water and salt to a boil in a small, heavy saucepan. Then slowly add the grits, and give them a quick stir. Let the water return to a boil, and then cover the pot, and lower the heat. Simmer, stirring occasionally, until the grits absorb the water, and become thick, smooth, and creamy — about 7 minutes.
Cooking the bacon and vegetables — Set a large skillet over medium heat, and add the olive oil and the chopped bacon. Saute until the bacon turns crispy — about 5 minutes. Then add the bell pepper and onion, and let them cook until soft.
Cooking the shrimp — Add the shrimp to the skillet, and cook only until pink — about 1 minute. Transfer the shrimp to a plate or bowl. Do not remove the bacon or veggies from the skillet.
Making the sauce — Tip the vermouth into the hot pan. Let the vermouth bubble and reduce as you scrape, with a wooden spoon or spatula, all the bits that have stuck to the bottom of the skillet. Add the heavy cream, and, while stirring slowly, let it bubble and reduce until thick enough to cloak the vegetables — about 3 minutes. Sprinkle the sauce with grinds of black pepper.
Assembling the Shrimp and Grits — Divide the grits between 2 plates, and top with the cream sauce. Garnish the sauce with the diced chives. Then divide the shrimp between the plates, arranging them along the edge, with their tails facing out.
Serve while hot, along with goblets of chilled Sauvignon Blanc or Vermentino.
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