Shrimp and Grits is a popular dish here in the North Carolina and maybe even more so throughout the southern states to the New Orleans sea border. I tend to think of it being a cajun Louisiana style dish. It was only about 5 or 6 years ago that I had my first bowl of Shrimp and Grits, believe it or not! Just one of those things that I never thought about grits being a dinner meal with shrimp. To me it was a breakfast side dish to go with bacon and eggs. Shrimp on top of grits just didn’t strike my fancy, well until I tried it! There’s a local restaurant that I’ve eaten at several times and I saw them serve it to another patron and when I saw it, I knew I had to try it. It was a bowl of cheesy grits topped with a choice of many toppings plus shrimp. The one I got had sautéed mushrooms and onions, bacon and shrimp on top of creamy cheesy grits with a little hot sauce drizzled around the edge of the bowl. I was sold! The perfect comfort food!
Well, I set out to make something similar at home and that’s how I came up with my Loaded Shrimp and Grits. The grits has more than just the creamy cheese in it. To keep from having to cook the bacon and sauté’ the mushrooms and onions in separate pans, (I hate extra dishes to clean up) I do it in one pot and top it with the shrimp that I do sauté separately just to keep from over cooking them.
Fair warning though, this is NOT a low calorie, low fat dish. It is a true comfort food for those days when we need to succumb to a deep rich, thick, creamy, hearty, cheesy goodness. I think that is the definition of Southern comfort foods, right? I’m telling you, this is a favorite to those that I have fixed this for. They love it! Besides, who doesn’t_love_BACON? Bacon WITH shrimp on top of cheesy grits?! (I think this may be dinner tonight) That’s the hardest part of blogging about food, it makes me crave what I’m writing about. I’m such a foodie.
Here’s how I make it.
Loaded Shrimp and Grits
In a medium size sauce pot over medium-low heat, brown the bacon pieces until they are crispy but has a little tenderness still in them because they will crisp even more as they drain. Remove the bacon to a paper towel lined paper plate to drain. (just don’t want to clean another dish…)
In the rendered bacon fat, sauté the shallot or sweet onion, red bell pepper, mushrooms and jalapenos in butter on medium-low heat until they are tender, about 3-4 minutes.
Tip: Many times I use frozen bell pepper pieces and Jalapenos. If I don’t have fresh mushrooms on hand, I just use a small can that has been drained.
Add the garlic and cook 1 minute.
Pour the chicken broth and water over the grits, salt and pepper. Stir well.
Then pour the cream over all of that delicious goodness! Stir well again.
Over medium heat, bring to a boil, stirring frequently. Let it cook, stirring constantly, for about a minute. Then reduce the heat to a low simmer, cover and cook 20 minutes, stirring occasionally to prevent sticking and clumping.
After about 20 minutes, you’ll have thick, rich grits packed with lots of flavors.
Turn off the heat and add the cheddar cheese and Asiago or Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese and stir to melt and incorporate into the grits. Cover and let stand while you saute’ the shrimp.
In a frying pan over medium heat, melt butter and sauté the shrimp until they are just pink, 2-3 minutes. Use caution and do not overcook. They will become rubbery and develop a strong ‘fishy’ taste.
By the way, one night I did not have any plain shrimp but I did have some frozen raw shrimp scampi. I get this at one of the local warehouse stores and use it in my Shrimp Scampi with Linguine for a quick and easy weeknight meal. Basically, it’s frozen shrimp with a coating of the scampi sauce frozen right on each raw shrimp. Well, since I didn’t have any regular raw shrimp, I sauteed it instead and I loved the extra flavor it gave this Shrimp and Grits!
Serve the loaded grits in a bowl garnished with a little more shredded cheese, bacon and shrimp. It’s common to dash some hot sauce on top for that Cajun kick.
There are so many ways to change it up a bit. You could use a different type of cheese such as goat cheese or a white cheddar.
If you love shrimp, you may like one of these dishes:
What is your favorite topping for Shrimp and Grits?