This has been a much-requested recipe, so I’ll share a version of it here. It’s a little hard to follow because honestly I don’t use a lot of measurements, and I can’t even tell you a “typical” set of spices. You’ll have to figure that out for yourself based on what you like as flavors.
But I will say that, made well, this recipe beats nearly every bowl of shrimp & grits you will ever find. So invest in high-quality meat and spices, and break out the cream and butter. And stone-ground grits. Do not EVEN think of making this with some crappy store-bought dried grit crap.
Also, don’t tell me “I hate grits. They’re gross and I refuse to eat them” until you’ve made them THIS WAY. Then, if you still hatethem, you are wrong but we can remain friends. 🙂
RameyLady’s Shrimp and Grits Recipe
Serves 4. Scale up or down as needed.
THE GRITS – start these first.
1 cup stone ground, local grits (like Timms Mill) – follow package directions re: sifting or rinsing
4 cups chicken stock
1 stick of butter
1 tsp salt
1-2 cups of cream, half & half, or whole milk
1/2 cup of shredded cheese (your choice, optional)
salt, pepper, perhaps some seasonings (to taste)
To make the grits:
In a heavy-bottomed sauce pan that’s large enough for the grits not to bubble over, combine the broth and butter over medium heat to bring to a boil. Stir in 1 cup of stone ground uncooked grits and reduce heat to medium-low. You want the grits to bubble and cook, but they turn into a nuclear meltdown of bubbling 3rd degree burn material if you let them get too hot. Stir & cook carefully for 15 minutes, then pour in 1/2 cup of cream (or milk or half & half or whatever combo of those you’d like) and stir well. Add a little salt -not too much — and fresh-ground pepper, plus any additional seasonings you’d prefer. Reduce heat a bit – you want the grits to bubble slowly but not so fast that they splutter. As the grits continue to cook over the next 25-40 minutes, add cream a couple more times, about 1/2 cup at a time, until the grits are cooked through, not “gritty,” and thickened to your preference. Just before serving, add the cheese, stir through until melted, and check to see if you need any additional salt.
THE SHRIMP PART
Start this once the grits are in their first cooking phase.
1-2 lb fresh shrimp, peeled, deveined
4-5 sliced of very high quality bacon, diced
optional: 1 lb high-quality andouille sausage
olive oil, butter, salt, pepper, seasonings – as needed
garlic cloves – diced or use a press
cream sherry — about 1 cup total
1 onion, diced
1-2 bell peppers, diced
several fresh summer tomatoes, diced
dried thyme & basil
about 1 to 1 1/2 cups of cream or half n half (or whole milk)
about 2 T cornstarch
To make the shrimp gravy:
As you work through each stage of the dish, as it cooks, you can chop the ingredients for the next stage.
Stage 1: Prepare shrimp (peel, etc) and season to taste. I use a little salt & pepper and some favorite spice blends, including a little bit of heat. Dice the bacon and if you’re using sausage, prep that as well. Add the bacon to a large wide pan OR tall cooking pot (large enough to hold 4 quarts of liquid – that way you won’t get spattered) over medium heat to render fat and flavor. After the bacon is 80% cooked through, add some fresh garlic to the pan and star. Arrange the shrimp over the bottom of the pan in an even layer. If you have too much shrimp to cook all in one batch, split into two batches (and split the bacon and garlic as well, since you’ll want to cook each batch fresh.) Flip the shrimp after about 60 seconds and cook on the other side till the shrimp are BARELY done. Pour a couple tablespoons of sherry into the pan and stir. Cook for about 30 seconds, then remove everything from the pan into a glass dish and keep warm — pour everything in the pan out and reserve all juices.
(If making two batches of shrimp, reduce pan heat a little and start with some fresh bacon.)
You can wipe the pan if you want. I usually don’t.
Stage 2: Add the rest of the chopped bacon. If you’re using sausage, add it to the pan here. Let the bacon render some fat, then add either 1 tsp of butter or a couple tsp of olive oil to the pan. Add 1-2 T fresh chopped garlic. Stir. Add the diced onion, cook for 2-3 minutes. Add the chopped bell pepper and cook for 5 minutes, until pepper is almost but not quite as done as you like. You should also season the vegetables – at least throw in some dried basil and thyme, about 1 T of each. Turn heat up to medium and pour a good half cup of sherry (up to 1 cup) into the pan. Stir well and then allow the sherry to reduce by half, which will take several minutes of boiling.
Stage 3: After the sherry has reduced down, add the diced fresh summer tomatoes. Whether you include the seeds is up to you; I don’t get too fussy here. Just chop the tomatoes & throw them in. Add another round of seasoning, like basil. In a bowl or measuring cup, measure 1.5 cups of milk/cream/half & half. Add 2 T of cornstarch. Stir vigorously with a fork until every bit of cornstarch is dissolved. Slowly pour the cream into your pan, stirring as it hits the warm vegetable-sherry mixture. Turn up heat a little past high and allow to boil until the cream begins to thicken (because of the corn starch).
Return the shrimp and their juices to the pan at this point and check your grits. You can safely “hold” either part of the dish on low heat until the other is done, but don’t add the shrimp into its pan until you know you’re within 5 min of eating. (Overcooked shrimp is gummy and gross.)
Serve by ladling 1/2 cup or more of grits into the bottom of a wide flat bowl, then top with about a cup of the shrimp mixture.
You really don’t need anything else with this dish – it covers all the bases. 🙂 It pairs very well with beer or wine. I prefer a warm red, but white wine drinkers can find something crisp and lemony.