Southern Shrimp and Grits

All generalizations are false, including this one. ~Mark Twain

This is another “Vintage ASP” post, coming out of the shadows of yesteryear. My favorite Southern Shrimp and Grits Recipe is being recycled because… it’s so darn good! Plus, it’s extremely easy to make.

I’ve been living in North Carolina for almost seven years now. I guess I had preconceptions about what it would be like living in the South. While planning for our move, my thoughts often ran to dark images of starchy, high-nosed women bearing over-sized hats, rundown appliances and a tractor sitting in an overgrown front yard, BBQ doused with vinegar, and (typing with lightly treading fingers)…remnants of bigotry. I thought at very best, it would be like “Steel Magnolias.”

Choosing to come with an open mind and positive attitude, I quickly discovered I was quite off base! Yes, this IS a pearl-wearing, sweet-tea-drinking, pork-loving kind of place. (Nothing against pearls or pork.) But, I quickly discovered there is an intangible charm about the South–a magical quality you don’t find in most places.

I’ll try to explain my findings; I realize I’m stereo-typing, please forgive.

People really are more hospitable in the South. They stop by your house to check on you, and offer many invites to theirs. They send thank you notes for thank you notes. And they always offer you cake–wherever you go!

In one word, Charleston. If you have never been to Charleston, South Carolina it is a MUST EXPERIENCE kind of place! The buildings and historical markers are almost incomparable in the US. Loaded with art galleries, street musicians and gourmet restaurants on every corner; it’s a city you hope to get lost in!

The language here not only encompasses the alluring draw we think of, but many smile-jerking slang terms as well. Conversations are sprinkled with amusing expressions that are completely new to me. I’ll list a few I’ve recently heard and just had to write down…

“Well, that just dills my pickle!”

“You know that boy is slicker than frog skin.”

“I’m sweatin’ like a fat girl writin’ a love letter!”

“That’s about as useful as a pogo stick in quicksand.”

“It’s cold enough to freeze the balls off a pool table!”

“You know, the sun don’t shine on the same dog’s tail all the time.”

“She’s tighter than the skin on a grape.”

People still smoke in the south! Maybe it’s not a high note, but a curious discovery, none-the-less. Asheville is considered something of a health utopia; yet it’s unbelievable how many people smoke here. I think it has something to do with the fact that there is at least one tobacco field on EVERY country road.

Southerners are very proud of their history, culture and architecture. They are aware–and in many cases–even apologetic about their shaded past, but they know their history well and tell richly colorful stories. They seem genuinely happy to share interesting facts about their town and local heroes. And they celebrate the unique art and music culture they have cultivated.

But most of all, I have discovered the wonders of Southern Cooking! It is serious business down here. There are culinary rules steeped in tradition that must be followed. Until our move, I was unaware that cornbread MUST be baked in a cast iron skillet–and in bacon grease. Any other way will only produce a cheap imitation.

Dishes like squash casserole, tomato pies, tomato jam, boiled peanuts, fried pickles, soft shell crabs, and fried green tomatoes were completely foreign to me. Now that I have been enlightened, I don’t know how I could ever live without soft shell crabs or fried green tomatoes! Also, I’m almost certain I had never eaten grits before living here. Sure, I had eaten POLENTA plenty of times…but grits, no. And did you know that their is a difference between Cajun and creole cooking? I had no idea! They come from completely different origins.

I am forever a student of my environment, and I plan to pay close attention in class.

These fantastic dishes are from Villeroy & Boch’s Farmhouse Line.

I came up with this recipe for Southern Shrimp and Grits shortly after our move. We enjoyed Shrimp and Grits at a local restaurant and knew this was one we’d have to make at home. It’s a cozy love-fest for seafood, bacon, corn and cheese with a bright pop from the lemon to balance the flavors. If you are exploring Southern cooking, this is the perfect place to start!

Preparation:

In a medium saucepan, bring 4 cups of water to a boil. Add grits, ¾ tsp. salt and ¼ tsp. pepper. Whisk well to avoid clumping. Reduce heat to lowest setting and cook until water is absorbed, 10-12 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in butter, cheese and 2-3 dashes of cayenne pepper. Cover until ready to serve.


Fry the bacon over medium-high heat in a large skillet. When crisp, remove bacon with a slotted spoon and place on a paper towel to drain.

About the bacon…I like to cut my bacon with kitchen sheers, it’s a little easier than using a knife. Also, remove it from the pan when it has JUST turned brick red, not brown. If you are listening carefully, you’ll here the sizzle change when it’s ready!

Add shrimp and another dash of cayenne pepper to the bacon grease and sauté until pink—about 3 minutes. Immediately add onions, garlic, parsley and lemon juice. Toss and remove from the heat. No need to salt the shrimp, since it’s going into bacon grease.


Divide grits onto plates and top with the shrimp mixture and bacon.

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Yield: 4 servings

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 15 minutes

Southern Shrimp and Grits

Ingredients:

For the Grits:
1 cup stone-ground grits
3 Tb. butter
2 cups shredded fontina cheese
Cayenne pepper

For the Shrimp:
1 lb. shrimp, peeled and deveined
½ lb. bacon, chopped
½ lemon, juiced
2-3 Tb. chopped parsley
1 small bunch chopped green onions (3/4 cup)
1 large garlic clove, minced
Salt and Pepper

Directions:

In a medium saucepan, bring 4 cups of water to a boil. Add grits, ¾ tsp. salt and ¼ tsp. pepper. Whisk well to avoid clumping. Reduce heat to lowest setting and cook until water is absorbed, 10-12 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in butter, cheese and 2-3 dashes of cayenne pepper. Cover until ready to serve.

Fry the bacon over medium-high heat in a large skillet. When crisp, remove bacon with a slotted spoon and place on a paper towel to drain.

Add shrimp and another dash of cayenne pepper to the bacon grease and sauté until pink—about 3 minutes. Immediately add onions, garlic, parsley and lemon juice. Toss and remove from the heat.

No need to salt the shrimp, since it's going into bacon grease.

Divide grits onto plates and top with the shrimp mixture and bacon.

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78 Responses to “Southern Shrimp and Grits”

  1. #
    51
    purabi naha — May 12, 2011 @ 12:57 am

    The Shrimp and Grits recipe is really intersting and the photos look great too! Congrats on being featured on Foodbuzz.

    Reply

  2. #
    52
    Magic of Spice — May 12, 2011 @ 8:45 am

    So fantastic and a gorgeous dish…I grew up with food like this as my dad’s specialties were Creole and Cajin cuisine, love it!

    Reply

  3. #
    53
    Cheryl and Adam @ pictureperfectmeals.com — May 12, 2011 @ 8:53 am

    Congrats on the Top 9! Beautiful photos, delicious southern classic dish. Yum!

    Reply

  4. #
    54
    brenda joan — May 12, 2011 @ 9:12 am

    I think this is a great recipe! If may just use a cheesy rice instead of grits, I think that will work.

    Reply

  5. #
    55
    Priscilla @ She'sCookin' — May 12, 2011 @ 10:06 am

    So true! Thanks for putting a smile on my face this morning :) When we visit my hometown (Eureka Springs, Ark) it was hard for my husband (a Yankee) to realize that folks want to help you and they don’t expect anything in return – although a slice of cake or pie will be accepted. Your shrimp and grits has awakened a craving – just might make it for dinner tonight! Congrats on the Top 9, Sommer!

    Reply

  6. #
    56
    Michelle — May 12, 2011 @ 12:01 pm

    Your shrimp & grits look amazing!! And I, too, LOVE Charleston. Next time you’re there, check out Hominy Grill. Their shrimp & grits are super delicious. Thanks for sharing. Can’t wait to make this for my hubby! :)

    Reply

  7. #
    57
    Sook — May 12, 2011 @ 2:23 pm

    I love shrimp! I haven’t had shrimp in so long! I will save this recipe for later. Thank you!

    Reply

  8. #
    58
    Ruby — May 12, 2011 @ 3:06 pm

    Truly gorgeous dish (bookmarking it for next week’s menu planning) and funnily enough your list of southern expressions reminded me of my English granddad! He’d say things like ‘It’s colder than a witch’s t*ts’ – at least when my nan wasn’t within earshot! ;-)

    Reply

  9. #
    59
    Sabrina@loulousucre — May 14, 2011 @ 12:29 pm

    Beautiful!!! I am in Louisiana and probably eat shrimp and grits at least once a month. Your recipe looks great. I usually make mine with andouille instead of bacon, but can’t wait to try your version. I’m glad that you are loving the South. I think that those of us who have never been anywhere else take it for granted sometimes. Thanks for the reminder of how great it is to be southern!!

    Reply

  10. #
    60
    Chef Dennis — May 14, 2011 @ 3:52 pm

    wow, what a perfectly created dish! I love everything about it, and don’t get me started on grits!! They actually use instant grits up north…..yuk

    I do miss the south so much, we have great food up here, but it just can’t compare to southern cooking !

    Cheers
    Dennis

    Reply

  11. #
    61
    CLAIRE — May 17, 2011 @ 11:51 am

    holy cow this looks amazing! so happy you pulled this one out- love me some shrimp and grits!

    Reply

  12. #
    62
    Megan — May 18, 2011 @ 9:07 am

    Hello! What a fun post! I adore all the quotes… I have a new southern friend and all these sweet sayings are dear to my heart. I love that you are embracing southern cooking. The dish you created is amazing!

    Reply

  13. #
    63
    Adele Forbes — May 28, 2011 @ 11:21 am

    Have just dissected your blog and love every single inch of it and have shared alot of the recipes with all of my Facebook friends. I live in the mountains of NC near Linville.

    Reply

    • emily willingham — May 4th, 2012 @ 6:39 am

      ah, Linville – God’s country

      Reply

  14. #
    64
    Fred — May 29, 2011 @ 1:50 pm

    My girlfriend just made this for diner … it was a real mouth pleasure…
    different tastes in comes on your tongue in the same time…
    absolutly amazing!!!

    ENJOY !!

    Reply

    • JLu — February 11th, 2014 @ 8:33 am

      Thanks for an actual review of the food!

      Reply

  15. #
    65
    marla — August 7, 2011 @ 9:53 pm

    Southern cooking is wonderful & I agree Charleston is a remarkable city that I would like to visit again some time soon. Love the shrimp & grits and the slang.

    Reply

  16. #
    66
    megan @ whatmegansmaking — August 8, 2011 @ 3:47 am

    I haven’t experienced much southern cooking, but this looks really good!

    Reply

  17. #
    67
    Tickled Red — August 8, 2011 @ 1:14 pm

    One of my all time favorite recipes! Girl, I know it’s seven years too late but seeing as how we just recently discovered each other, Welcome to the south :) This post had me cracking up. As an Asheville born transplant to the NC coast, I can’t wait for you to come visit some time. We will most definitely whip up some shrimp and grits.

    Reply

  18. #
    68
    Feast on the Cheap — August 11, 2011 @ 3:36 pm

    Give me those grits! Having a southern week myself…we just posted some Southern Sausage & Cheese Biscuits from my great nana.

    This looks wonderful!

    Reply

  19. #
    69
    emily willingham — May 4, 2012 @ 6:25 am

    hi, a Sandlapper here (south Carolinian) – great post, but one little correction – its DRAWL, not draw, e.g., “I just love that Southern drawl you have, darlin’ “

    Reply

  20. #
    70
    emily willingham — May 4, 2012 @ 6:38 am

    oh, and if you want to try truly, authentic, stone-ground, south carolina grits, you can order them online here at Geechi Boys Mills: http://www.geechieboymill.com/geechieboymill/Buy_Online.html
    What is Geechi, you ask? Its a south carolina dialect that the Gullah people of the Charleston-area low country speak

    Reply

  21. #
    71
    Joanna — June 5, 2013 @ 6:06 pm

    Just made this for dinner tonight it was unbelievably good! Thank you for your awesome recipes I cannot wait to try more!

    Reply

  22. #
    72
    JW — March 7, 2014 @ 12:33 pm

    My girlfriend and I made this recipe last night and it was delicious!!!! We used corn grits instead and loved the mix of flavors! Next time we are going to add a fresh tomato wine sauce. Thank you for the recipe!!!

    Reply

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