A few months ago my mom & sister took a trip to Charleston, and all they bought me was a bag of grits. Technically, a bag of cornmeal.
But I wasn’t too utterly disappointed as I believe grits are one of the most underrated foods out there. Especially when they’re served with shrimp. I’ve made shrimp & grits a couple of times, and this is by far the best recipe. My favorite food tester even had three helpings.
I found the recipe on Tiny Test Kitchen, but I definitely made some adaptations. It was one of the better base recipes I found, so I decided to start with it and make adjustments as I went along. Below is the final recipe, and I promise you won’t be disappointed.
“The Best” Shrimp and Grits (adapted from TinyTestKitchen.com)
2 cups whole milk
1 cup chicken broth
2 tsp kosher salt, plus more to season
1/2 cup white stone ground cornmeal
1 1/2 cups aged cheddar, coarsely grated
2 tbsp unsalted butter
3 strips of Applewood smoked bacon, cut into 1/2″ pieces
1 tbsp + 2tsp unsalted butter (1 tbsp = 3 tsp, you can divide butter into 1 tsp and 2 tsp and 2 tsp)
1/3 large red pepper, finely chopped
1/2 yellow pepper, finely chopped
1/2 jalapeno pepper, finely chopped
1 small onion, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1/2 lb large shrimp, shelled, deveined, tails on
1/3 cup white wine
1/2 cup chicken broth
2 glugs hot sauce
1 TBS of tomato paste
1 TBS creole seasoning
1/2 cup heavy cream
Add milk, chicken broth and salt to a medium saucepan and bring to a boil. Sprinkle cornmeal over the boiling liquid, constantly whisking to prevent lumps. Continue to whisk for 4 minutes, until mixture thickens. Reduce heat to medium and continue to simmer for 20 minutes.
Set a 12″ saute pan over medium-high heat, add 1 tsp of the butter once the pan is hot. Add bacon and cook until browned and crispy but not burnt. Remove bacon with a slotted spoon and place on paper towels to drain.
You can either hand chop the peppers & onions or finely dice them in the food processor. I chose the latter as I don’t like my shrimp sauce to be chunky.
Add 2 tsp butter to the bacon fat and add onion and peppers. Saute until soft, about 4 minutes. Add garlic and cook until cook until fragrant, about 2 minutes.
Season shrimp with salt and pepper and add to the saute pan, trying to place them in between the vegetables. Cook for 2 minutes on each side, until pink and just cooked through.
Remove shrimp and set aside on a plate, cover with tin foil to keep warm. Add white wine to deglaze the pan, making sure to scrape all the caramelized bits from the bottom. Reduce wine. Add chicken stock, tomato paste, creole seasoning and hot sauce and reduce until sauce coats the back of the spoon. Whisk 2 tsp of butter and heavy cream in to sauce. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
Reduce grits to low heat and whisk in cheese and 2 tsp butter. Season with salt to taste.
Serve the shrimp on a bed of grits, cover with sauce. Garnish with bacon bits.