This is one of the premier Southern comfort food staples. Who else would take what’s primarily a breakfast food – grits – and turn it into a heavenly dinner dish? Thanks to shrimp coming in convenient frozen food sections these days, you can make it any time of year, too.
We’re not going to go too much into the grits portion of the meal. If you can get them, I advise just using the “old fashioned” variety, otherwise known as the non-quick-cooking kind. Regular grits take about ten to fifteen minutes to cook on the stovetop and are usually creamy enough when you follow the package instructions. The recipe I base my shrimp and grits on doesn’t really do a good job on the grits, so I’m omitting that portion of the recipe. Just use plain grits. The shrimp and sauce will provide plenty of flavor. If you can’t find or don’t want to use grits, good substitutions might be some creamy polenta, or even just steamed white or brown rice. You can use quick-cook grits if you’d like, but I feel that if I’m going to go to the trouble to make this tasty meal, it’s not any harder to make the better kind of grits.
In my version, I added in some red bell pepper and saute it with some finely diced onions and minced garlic. I found that the red bell pepper added in deeper flavor as well as some nice color.
Next you’ll saute some smoked sausage. This can be an andouille or other spicy variety, or you could even use diced bacon if you prefer. We like it with the sausage, obviously. When it’s done sauteing, you’ll stir in a little flour and then some chicken stock.
The sauce is starting to come together. You’ll want to bring it to a simmer and stir to help the flour thicken it all.
After adding back in the onion and bell pepper, it’s time to poach the shrimp in the sauce. The recipe calls for tail-on shrimp, and while you don’t have to leave the tails on, they will help to add flavor and depth to the sauce.
Pretty soon, you’ve got a thick, yet not too thick, sauce and perfectly cooked shrimp, ready for those grits!
Just ladle up some creamy grits ththen some of the shrimp and sauce, and settle in for some good ‘ole Southern times. Hope you enjoy this one!
Shrimp and Grits
Adapted slightly from Shrimp and Grits by Tyler Florence
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 medium white onion, minced
- 1 medium red bell pepper, diced
- 1 garlic clove, minced
- 1 pound andouille or other spicy sausage, cut in chunks
- 4 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 2 cups chicken stock
- 2 to 3 bay leaves
- 2 pounds large shrimp, peeled and deveined, tails on
- Pinch cayenne pepper, adjust to personal preference
- salt and pepper, to taste
- Regular, non-quick-cook grits, prepared according to package
- green onions, finely sliced, and fresh parsley, minced – optional
Prepare your grits according to the package instructions. Be sure to make enough servings! There should be package instructions for a few different serving sizes.
Tip: when adding grits to boiling water, whisk them in to avoid lumps. Stir them occasionally with the whisk to keep lumps from forming. Grits tend to want to form large clumps and lumps when not stirred enough.
While grits cook, place a deep skillet over medium heat and coat with the olive oil. Add the onion, bell pepper and garlic; saute for 2 minutes to soften. Remoe from pan to a bowl and set aside. Add the sausage and cook, stirring, until there is a fair amount of fat in the pan and the sausage is brown (if there’s not much fat, add in about a tablespoon or two of olive oil). Sprinkle in the flour and stir with a wooden spoon to create a roux. Slowly pour in the chicken stock and continue to stir to avoid lumps. Add back in the onion/pepper/garlic mixture. Toss in the bay leaves. When the liquid comes to a simmer, add the shrimp. Poach the shrimp in the stock for 2 to 3 minutes, until they are firm and pink and the gravy is smooth and thick. Add the cayenne pepper if you wish at this point. Season with salt and pepper. Spoon the grits into a serving bowl and add the shrimp mixture over grits, or serve right into individual bowls or plates. Serve immediately.
Notes: You can finely slice the white and light green parts of a couple of green onions and mince some fresh parsley as a garnish if you like. Just sprinkle them on after the dish is done cooking, or set them to the side for guests to use if they’d like. I almost always forget these, as you can see above.