The Lexingtonienne

September27th

4 Comments

In my family we are big fans of South Carolina, especially the Charleston area.

Charleston houses

The salty beach air, rich history, and friendly locals are all big draws, of course, but what really keeps me coming back to Lowcountry is the cuisine. How can one resist a place where there are pralines on every corner, and where all the restaurant menus offer up fried green tomatoes, hush puppies, and some of the freshest seafood you’ve ever had?

shrimp n grits

But the crown jewel of Carolina cooking — the dish you simply cannot go to Charleston and not devour — is Shrimp & Grits.

shrimp n grits

shrimp n grits

Like any selfespecting Southerner, I grew up eating grits. One of my earliest memories is of watching my dad melt pats of butter into a bowl of hot grits at breakfast time. Which is why I was incredulous several years ago when my Yankee boyfriend (now my Yankee husband) asked me, “What is a grit?”

shrimp n grits

What is a grit? That’s like saying, “What is a butter?” or “What is a milk?” I had never met anyone who didn’t know what grits were. And “A GRIT?” He made it sound so… humble. I was so taken aback that I think you all know exactly what I told him he could kiss.

shrimp n grits

shrimp n grits

THIS dish, my friends, is anything but humble. Yes, Shrimp & Grits may have gotten its start as the breakfast of coastal fisherman, but Shrimp & Grits done graduated to the big leagues now.

shrimp n grits

shrimp n grits

In fact, last Christmas, my grandmother prepared these Shrimp & Grits for our Christmas dinner. That’s right, “a grit” is that good. CHRISTMAS good.

shrimp n grits

shrimp n grits

So if you — as I so often do — find yourself craving a taste of Lowcountry, give this recipe a try. And if you’ve never had grits before and you want to impress your friends at your next dinner party with something surprisingly fancy, YOU should try this recipe too! These grits are so rich and fabulous, you really will want to kiss them.

shrimp n grits

SHRIMP & GRITS (pdf)
Serves 2

  • 1 lb shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • 5-6 cloves of garlic, slightly smashed
  • 4 T butter, divided
  • 1 tsp lemon or lime juice
  • 2 1/2 C chicken broth
  • 1 tsp Old Bay Seasoning (or to taste)
  • 1/8 tsp cayenne pepper (or to taste)
  • 3/4 C quick grits
  • 3 T cream cheese
  • 2 T whole milk, plus a little extra for fine tuning
  • 1/2 C green onions, chopped
  • 3 strips thick-sliced bacon, cooked and crumbled*
*Authentic recipes call for tasso ham. I did not even bother looking for tasso ham in Los Angeles, but found that bacon works beautifully. If you don’t dig on swine, you can omit the bacon and these grits will still be delicious.

In a large skillet, melt 3 T butter over low heat, adding garlic cloves and stirring to infuse the butter with the garlic flavor. Add shrimp in a single layer and cook until just cooked through, turning once during cooking. Stir in lemon juice. Set aside and keep warm. (If the shrimp does get cool, you can heat it up again just before serving.)

In a saucepan over high heat, bring chicken broth, 1 T butter, Old Bay Seasoning, and cayenne pepper to a boil. Gradually stir in grits. Reduce heat to low. Cover and simmer for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Stir in cream cheese and milk, and continue to simmer for about 7 minutes, stirring occasionally. Stir in bacon and green onion. Add more milk and/or butter if necessary to achieve a smooth consistency.

Spoon grits into warm bowls and top with shrimp. (You may want to drizzle some of that garlic butter on top too.) Serve immediately.

xoxo,
Hannah

4 Comments

  • Comment by Bonnie — September 27, 2012 @ 10:31 am

    This is also very popular in Richmond, Virginia. Thanks for the recipe.

  • Comment by Elizabeth — September 28, 2012 @ 6:22 pm

    How can reading a recipe be so much fun? I love your writing, Hannah! (and your recipes:))

  • Comment by Dinah — October 12, 2012 @ 10:54 pm

    hi, how do you think turkey bacon would work?

  • Comment by Hannilou — October 19, 2012 @ 8:30 pm

    I think turkey bacon would work just fine. You can also leave the bacon out altogether… I’ve had it that way too and it’s still SO good!

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