Every Christmas, The Astronomer’s mother fills our stockings with a year’s supply of stone-ground grits from Birmingham’s McEwan & Sons. This past holiday, we were gifted three pounds of white, yellow, and blue corn varieties—a hearty reserve to add a little southern comfort onto our southern California dinner table.
Even though I love grits best when they’re simply prepared with a pat of butter and a generous grating of cheese, I couldn’t resist trying something a notch fancier when I found this recipe for Shrimp and Grits in Robb Walsh’s Texas Eats cookbook.
While the addition of button mushrooms and scallions seemed perfectly complimentary, what really caught my interest was the suggestion to swap out plain tap water for homemade shrimp stock in the grits. The idea of imbuing briny shrimp flavor at every layer sounded so right on.
The most labor intensive part of this recipe is peeling and deveining the pound of shrimp and making a stock from the remains. But once that’s out of the way, the shrimp and grits come together in a relative snap. Bacon crumbles and a few lashes of Tabasco sauce add the finishing touches. Rich, creamy, savory, tangy, and spicy—this dish has it all.
- 4 cups shrimp stock
- 1 cup quick-cooking grits
- 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
- Pinch of cayenne pepper
- 1 pound head-on shrimp
- 6 slices bacon, diced
- Vegetable oil
- 2 cups white button mushrooms, sliced
- 1 cup green onions (white and green parts), sliced
- 1 large clove garlic, minced
- 2 tablespoons parsley, chopped
- 4 teaspoons lemon juice
- 1 or 2 dashes Tabasco sauce
- Salt and pepper
Peel and devein the shrimp and set aside. The shrimp heads and shrimp shells will be used to make a broth for the grits.
For the shrimp stock, combine four cups of water with the shrimp heads, shrimp shells, and vegetable trimmings (parsley stems plus whatever you have lying around in the fridge) in a stockpot and bring to a boil over high heat. Lower the heat to a simmer. Cook for 20 to 30 minutes to extract flavor.
Remove from the heat and strain through a fine-mesh sieve several times to remove any tiny shell or other bits. Use immediately, or let cool, cover, and refrigerate for a week or freeze for up to 3 months.
For the grits, bring the stock to a boil over high heat. Slowly add the grits while whisking constantly. When all of the grits are incorporated, decrease the heat to low and cook, stirring occasionally, for 20 to 30 minutes, until soft and creamy.
Remove from the heat and stir in the cheese, butter, salt, black pepper, and cayenne and stir just until mixed. Set the grits aside in a warm place, or keep them warm over hot water in a double boiler.
In a skillet, sauté the bacon over medium heat until crisp, about 8 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the bacon to paper towels to drain, then crumble.
Return the skillet to medium heat and add enough oil to the bacon drippings so the fat is about 1/8 inch deep. When the fat is hot but not smoking, add the mushrooms, green onions, and garlic and cook for about 2 minutes.
Add the shrimp and sauté for about 5 minutes or until the shrimp are cooked through. Stir in the parsley and season with the lemon juice, Tabasco, salt, and pepper.
To serve, divide the grits among 4 bowls, spoon the shrimp on top, and sprinkle with the bacon. Serve with Tabasco sauce on the side.
Recipe adapted from Robb Walsh’s Shrimp and Grits. [For Printable Recipe Click Here]
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