Shrimp & grits are a staple here in the South and are on every brunch menu in Charleston. The first time I made shrimp & grits for Ryan, he was very reluctant, but he truly enjoyed it. This dish has the perfect combination of flavors and textures - creamy grits, juicy shrimp, acidity from the tomatoes, and smoky bacon.
So join me in celebrating (it's my birthday) over the Labor Day weekend and make this awesome brunch dish. (One of my parents' friends even told them that these shrimp & grits are better than any they've had before.)
All photos in this post are from Joel Gilmore.
Ingredients for the grits: 1 cup grits, 2 cups water, 2 cups milk, salt, butter, cream cheese, and cream.
Fat and I were not buddies like we are now when I made this recipe. I now suggest using heavy whipping cream and full fat cream cheese but choose what's best for you!
I make grits using a 4:1 ratio of liquid:grits for the best results. The add-ins of butter, cream cheese, and cream can be used in measurements of your preference.
Ingredients for shrimp sauce: Peeled, deveined shrimp, 1 can diced tomatoes, garlic (about 1 tsp), bacon.
Start by pouring the milk and water mixture for the grits into a large pot. The grits expand as they cook, so use a slightly bigger pot than you think you may need.
Add a large pinch of salt and turn the heat to medium-low.
Heat the liquid until it's almost a simmer, about 5 minutes. You should hear a slight hiss and see small bubbles like this if you tilt the pot. If you let the liquid boil, it will scorch the milk and make it taste bitter/sour.
Next, whisk in the cup of grits. Keep whisking until the mixture feels combined and no grits are resting on the bottom of the pot. Turn the heat to a simmer and whisk occasionally, every 2-3 minutes, for 15 minutes.
We'll come back to these - onto the scrimps! Or srumps, as my nephew used to call them.
Start with bacon. Everything worth eating starts with bacon. I use scissors to cut mine into small pieces, because the bacon will continue to cook in the pan with the sauce - these are not used for crumbles.
And PLEASE always start bacon in a cold pan. If the pan is hot and cold bacon goes into it, the bacon is more likely to burn. The same goes with cooking slices in the oven.
Start cooking the bacon and rendering the fat. Like I said, you don't want these to get crispy, just let them begin to brown and melt.
Crack open the can of tomatoes and pour it into the pan with the bacon.
**Don't forget about your grits back there! Remember to keep stirring them every 2-3 minutes to evenly distribute the heat and keep them from sticking.
Stir in one teaspoon of garlic.
Let the bacon, tomatoes, and garlic simmer and get friendly for a minute while you add some love to the grits.
Add cream cheese and butter to the grits. This is about 2-3 tablespoons of each here and I felt the texture was just right. If you like your grits super thick, add a few more tablespoons of cream cheese. If you like your grits thinner, add more butter.
And for some decadent silkiness, splash in about 1/2 cup cream. Give the grits a final stir, cover, and turn off the heat. These will stay plenty hot while you cook the shrimp.
Gently nestle the shrimp in the simmering sauce.
Cook the shrimp in the sauce for 2-3 minutes per side, until they are opaque and cooked through.
Then it's time to plate!
Ladle some smooth creamy grits into a bowl and top with a big spoonful of the shrimp and tomato bacon sauce.
Comment below with your favorite brunch dish, or your favorite birthday dish!
Here's the recipe!
Food that maximizes flavor and minimizes effort and time.