Visiting the South is not complete without tasting a Shrimps and Grits dish at least once. Since at one point or another one has to go back home, it’s nice to be able to recreate this dish, and even better – to prepare it according to your personal preferences.
Originally, it was a simple breakfast dish, consisting of grits cooked with water and shrimps cooked in bacon fat. However, since those simpler times, many more elaborated and heavier versions were created. So one of my goals was to make a lighter version of the dish. I used far less cheese and butter in the grits than what most recipes call for. I also decided to add tomatoes and thyme to the sauce, as I find the slight acidity lightens the dish. The result is a tasty and well balanced version of this tasty dish. Try it and enjoy.
* If you’re in a part of the world where grits is not so easily available, you can use polenta instead.
Prep time: 30 minutes
Cooking time: For the grits: 30 minutes. For the shrimps: 20 minutes
For the grits:
3 cups water
¾ cup old-fashioned white grits
½ cup milk, at room temperature
½ stick (55 grams) butter, cut into large cubes, soft
1 tsp salt
1/3 cup finely grated Parmesan
For the shrimps:
12 medium-large shrimps, preferable fresh, or good quality frozen (preferably Gulf shrimps) frozen and thawed
2 medium tomatoes
4 slices uncured bacon
1 large garlic clove, chopped
1 Tbs fresh thyme, chopped
2 Tbs butter
½ tsp salt
¼ tsp freshly ground black pepper
½ cup shrimps stock
a few drops Hot sauce
For the stock:
Shells from the above shrimps
1 celery stick, roughly cut
½ carrot, peeled, roughly cut
1 bay leaf
1 tsp peppercorns
Tomato skins from the tomatoes above
3 cups water
1. The stock: Peel the shrimps and the tomatoes (see under Tips for more detailed instructions, if needed). Place the shrimp shells in a medium pot with all the ingredients for the stock. Bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium and cook for 15 minutes. Strain and keep the stock in a warm place. You should end up with about 1 cup stock.
2. The grits: bring the water to a boil and add the grits, while whisking. Reduce the heat to low and cook for about 25-30 minutes, whisking occasionally, until the grits is creamy. In the last 5 minutes, add the milk, butter, salt and cheese. Mix gently and cook 5 minutes longer. Taste and adjust seasoning if needed. Keep in a warm place.
3. The shrimps sauce: Devein the shrimps and place on paper towels. Cut the peeled tomatoes into quarters and removed the seeds. Cut into small cubes and set aside.
4. Chop the bacon roughly and place in a large pan. Cook on medium heat until it starts to brown. Add the shrimps and fry for 1 minute on each side. Add the garlic, tomatoes, thyme, salt and pepper and fry for 1 minute. Add ½ cup of the shrimps stock and the butter. Cook together for 1-2 minutes, just until the shrimps are cooked.
5. Transfer the shrimps to a warm plate and keep in a warm place. Keep cooking the tomato sauce for 1-2 minutes longer, to reduce and thicken it. Add a few drops of hot sauce, and salt, if needed. Add the shrimps back to the pan and mix gently.
6. Mix the grits well and divide between serving plates. Add the shrimps and sauce on top. Serve immediately.