Shrimp and Grits
(American, Southern-Soul shrimp and gravy over grits)
Shrimp and grits is a classic from the Low Country of coastal South Carolina and the Charleston area. This version of the dish shows the similarity between Low Country cooking and the cuisine New Orleans in its use of a roux to thicken the sauce, or gravy. Great for dinner or breakfast.
4 to 6 servings
For the Shrimp:
- Butter or oil -- 1/4 cup
- Flour -- 1/4 cup, plus 1 tablespoon
- Shrimp, peeled and deveined -- 1 pound
- Salt and pepper -- to season
- Onion, finely chopped -- 1
- Bell pepper, finely chopped -- 1
- Garlic, minced -- 3 cloves
- Chicken broth -- 1 1/2 cups
- Scallions, chopped -- 2
For the Grits:
- Chicken broth or water -- 3 cups
- Heavy cream -- 1 cup
- Salt -- 1 teaspoon
- Quick grits -- 1 cup
- Heat the butter or oil in a skillet over medium-low flame. Whisk in the 1/4 cup flour and cook slowly, stirring frequently, until the flour colors a deep reddish brown, anywhere from 15 to 20 minutes. Take care not to burn. This is your roux.
- While the roux is cooking mix the shrimp together in a bowl with the 1 tablespoon of flour remaining, salt and pepper. Set aside.
- Stir the onion and peppers into the roux and cook for 2 or 3 minutes, or until the onions soften and become translucent. Stir in the garlic and cook for another 30 seconds. Finally, stir in the shrimp and cook for another minute or so.
- Whisk in the chicken stock and reduce heat to low. Simmer for 2 to 3 minutes, or until the sauce thickens. Adjust seasoning and set aside while you make your grits.
- Bring the chicken broth or water, cream and salt to a boil in a saucepan over medium flame. Slowly stir in the grits. Cover, reduce heat to low, and cook, stirring occasionally, for 5 to 6 minutes. For creamier grits, cook a few minutes longer.
- Put a scoop of grits into each serving bowl and top with the shrimp and its sauce. Garnish with chopped scallions and serve hot.
Shrimp and Grits Variations
- Shrimp and Grits with Mushrooms: eliminate the bell pepper and substitute 1/2 pound of sliced mushrooms.
- Shrimp and Grits with Sausage: Stir in some sliced, browned garlic sausage with the shrimp if you like.
- Stone-Ground Grits: for a high quality dish, stone-ground grits are really the way to go. They take a lot longer, but the difference is real. Follow the package instructions to make enough for 6 servings.
- Cheesy Grits: Stir 1 1/2 cups of shredded Cheddar cheese into the grits at the end.
- Chop and saute a couple pieces of thick-sliced bacon in the skillet and use the fat from the bacon for the roux. Add more butter or oil as necessary to bring the total fat amount to 1/4 cup.
- Add a squeeze of lemon or lime or a couple of dashes of Tabasco sauce at the end to give the sauce a boost of flavor.