This cheesy, creamy shrimp and grits recipe just might be the easiest shrimp and grits recipe out there, which makes this perfect for supper or an easy brunch.
I tried to cook grits long ago when I married a man from Texas, whose mother grew up in Mississippi.
It wasn’t just that my husband, Mr. Rabbit Catcher, liked grits.
It just seemed a proper thing to be able to do.
After all I had married a somewhat Southern man, or so I thought.
Growing up in Illinois, grits were not on any menu that my eyes had ever set upon.
Nor was red-eyed gravy or ham steaks or biscuits or black eyed peas or sweet iced tea.
The closest thing to grits that had ever been on my plate was corn meal mush and that was during a driving trip to Florida with my family when I think I was 11.
We passed through Tennessee and if memory serves me right we ate at the Chattanooga Choo Choo.
My father was showing us how to blow the paper wrappers off of straws and during the demonstration his blown paper ended up in the middle of another patron’s breakfast.
It was a good blow, so to speak. My brother and I immediately doubled over, filled with laughter.
My dad didn’t show us much when it came to sports and such, so this was good stuff.
So good, I still remember it.
Whether I ate the corn meal mush at this meal I can’t tell you. And why I remember this I really don’t know.
And have I ever had corn meal mush since-not that I recall.
But sometimes when I go to the grocery I still see that mush in blocks in the refrigerator case and think it must have my name on it.
One day I’ll buy it and try it and remember that straw. But what does this have to do with the perfect comfort food which some call grits?
Well, both are made from corn, as is polenta.
I like polenta now, but thirty years ago I don’t recall that polenta was on the menu many places either.
I did try to make grits early in the marriage, but didn’t know then a thing about polenta either.
Anyway the grits were awful. Gluey and sticky, full of clumps and tasted like paste. Not something I’d want to eat again.
My husband just laughed. He never asked for them again. Wise decision on his part.
And so it is that a few months ago he brought me home a cookbook from the bargain bin of our local grocery.
I think it cost a full $2.99. I’m sure he didn’t realize that he bought me the bible of American regional cooking.
He bought me Patrick O’Connell’s “Refined American Cuisine”.
Patrick O’Connell of the Inn at Little Washington fame.
Patrick O’Connell who Patricia Wells identifies as ” a rare chef with sense of near-perfect taste, like a musician with perfect pitch.”
Yeah, that Patrick O’Connell. It was printed in 2004. He got me this book because he liked the pictures.
And of course, he was hoping to be the beneficiary of some of them.
So fast forward to the 4th recipe in the book.
So far, I haven’t been able to make it past this page which means I am missing out on bourbon pecan waffles, wild mushroom napoleans, lemon and black pepper risotto, pecan crusted softshell crab tempura, a crab cake sandwich with fried green tomatoes and frozen eggnog souffle.
My heart flutters. There is so much more to go and I am stuck at Swanky and Cheesy Shrimp and Grits.
I’ve been stuck here at least 4 times because that is how many times I’ve made this since he has brought home this book.
And after eating these grits, well shoot, when I die just bury me in cheese grits.
And so it is that I give you this oh so rich, to die for recipe, courtesy of Mr. Patrick O’Connell.
Last night I served it to Mr. Rabbit Catcher after he came in from chasing what he feels is the last rabbit to elude him.
“It was clawing its way up the fence to find a way to escape”, he tells me proudly.
And then after sitting down and eyeing dinner he says to me, “I love this dish. This is the best polenta I’ve ever had!”
Ugh. Doesn’t a southerner know grits when he sees them?
So let’s talk about grits, shall we?
This classic Southern recipe makes creamy grits and totally cheesy grits. Both at the same time!
Grits are made from corn and can be white, yellow or blue!
Any grits recipe can accomodate any color but some say that yellow grits have the most corn flavor.
Quick cooking grits are ground fine and cook in 5 minutes whereas regular grits are ground medium-fine and take 10 minutes.
Stone ground grits are coarsely ground and the least processed and also take the longest to cook.
Instant grits require just boiling water and I would stay away from those when making this classic Southern dish.
A good wire whisk is the best way to make the creamiest grits. Just whisk away while you slowly pour the grits into the hot chicken broth.
Whisking releases the starch which makes the grits creamy.
Shrimp and grits is an easy weeknight dinner. Or for that matter, a simple Sunday brunch or breakfast dish.
How to Make This Cheesy, Creamy Shrimp and Grits Recipe:
Begin by roasting the tomatoes and garlic.
This is your sauce which gives so much flavor to the finished product.
I use little cherry tomatoes and roast them with olive oil and balsamic vinegar along with a bay leaf and fresh basil if I have some.
Wrap up a head of garlic that has been drizzled with oil in some aluminum foil and let that cook while the tomatoes are roasting.
TIP: Keep in mind that this sauce and the roasted garlic can be made ahead. Even a few days ahead. Just reheat before mixing in to the shrimp.
How to Make Creamy Grits:
I use quick white corn grits but yellow corn grits will also work.
Slowly drizzle them into your boiling chicken stock, whisking all the while so they don’t stick to the bottom of the pan.
Once they are incorporated stir in some cream cheese or mascarpone cheese, the heavy cream and parmesan cheese, along with a pinch of sugar, and some of the roasted garlic cloves.
Don’t want parmesan? Feel free to use sharp cheddar cheese or white cheddar cheese tastes great also!
Keep warm on low heat while making the shrimp and don’t be afraid to stir in more cream, cheese or stock as needed.
In fact you can stir just about anything in so if you want to give this recipe some Cajun seasoning, mix that in here or with your shrimp mixture.
When making this classic shrimp dish, be sure to use the best fresh shrimp you can find.
I prefer jumbo shrimp but use the size you prefer.
Truth is though that most shrimp is already frozen and it only needs to be thawed under cold running water before using.
I like shrimp that are Individually Quick Frozen and I find them in the freezer case at my favorite grocery store.
Heat up the olive oil in a large skillet on medium-high heat and add the shrimp. Cook for about three minutes until they just begin to turn pink.
The cook time will depend on the size of shrimp you use.
Stir in a little bit of fresh minced garlic, along with some white wine. Add the roasted tomato mixture and green onions and cook until most of the liquid has evaporated and the shrimp are done.
Serve this over your cheesy grits and you will quickly see why this is one of the best shrimp dishes you’ve ever had.
Want this Southern shrimp dish a bit spicier? Feel free to add a few dashes of hot sauce.
To be honest I’m a bit confused about my love affair with this amazing creamy shrimp and grits recipe.
Is it the superb cheese grits? Or perhaps it’s the caramelized tomatoes and garlic?
But then again when both of these are mixed up with the delicious shrimp this dish becomes magical food.
So if Rabbbit Catcher/Manservant wants to think that grits are polenta, well, I don’t really care.
Just pass me my fork so I can dive in!
(This is an updated post from 2013.)
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This cheesy, creamy shrimp and grits recipe, made with a caramelized roasted tomato sauce, is the best shrimp and grits recipe I know of!
Cheesy Rich Grits
4 c chicken broth
1 c grits (quick cooking variety)
1 1/2 T cream cheese or mascarpone
1/4 – 1/3 c heavy cream
3 cloves roasted garlic or garlic powder to taste
Salt and pepper
Pinch of sugar
2 – 3 T freshly grated parmesan
Roasted Tomatoes and Garlic
1 small container of red baby grape tomatoes
2 T olive oil
2 T balsamic vinegar
Fresh ground pepper and salt
8 cloves of unpeeled garlic or shallots (About 1 head)
1 T olive oil
18 large shrimp, peeled and deveined (about 3/4 lb)
1/2 t minced garlic
1/4 dry white wine or vermouth
Roasted Tomatoes and Shallots or Garlic from above recipe
2 T chopped scallions
1 T butter
Roasted Tomatoes and Garlic
Preheat oven to 350. Put tomatoes in foil lined pan and drizzle with olive oil, balsamic vinegar and salt and pepper. Tuck in a few bay leaves and fresh basil leaves if you have them. Roast until caramelized about 30-45 minutes.
Place garlic or shallots in aluminum foil and drizzle with oil. Seal packet and roast in oven with tomatoes.
When tomatoes are roasted and garlic is soft, place tomatoes and 6 peeled garlic cloves into a deep glass bowl or measuring cup. I use an immersion blender to blend them into a coarsely chopped puree. Use reserved garlic cloves to stir into grits.
Cheesy, Creamy Grits
In a 2 qt sauce pan bring stock to boiling. Whisk in grits slowly until soft and creamy. This doesn’t take long. Do not let grits stick to bottom of pan. If you need to you can always add more stock if they get too thick.
Stir in cream cheese or mascarpone, heavy cream, roasted garlic or some garlic powder, pinch of sugar, parmesan and salt and pepper to taste. Add more cream as needed to keep from getting to thick. Consistency should be like thick frosting. Keep warm over low heat while making shrimp.
In large skillet heat the olive oil over medium high heat. Add shrimp and saute for three minutes or until they just turn pink. Do not overcook.
Add garlic and saute for a few seconds more. Add wine or vermouth, roasted tomato mixture and scallions. Cook down until liquid has almost disappeared without overcooking shrimp. Stir in butter.
Different seasonings can be stirred into the shrimp and the grits. Think Cajun or even hot Nashville chicken spice. Totally up to you.
The tomato mixture can be made up to a few days ahead. Just reheat until warm before using.
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