Shrimp and Cheese Grits
There are as many ways to cook shrimp and grits as there are ways to roast a chicken. Which is why I love this recipe so much - you can leave your mark on it, make it your own just by doing something so simple as adding mushrooms, or using green onions and not white, or by lightly frying the shrimp first as is done in this wonderful version. Plus, the grits can simply be seasoned with butter or as we prefer with cheddar and garlic. This is the recipe my daughter wanted me to make for her 18th birthday party with friends. It is inspired from the first shrimp and grits I ever tasted in Charleston, S.C. With a big Caesar salad and birthday cake for dessert, the meal was simple, elegant, friendly, and fun.
Since then, I’ve made shrimp and grits even more ways, most recently in a cast-iron skillet. I simmer the grits until done in a saute of onion and peppers, add the cheese, then nestle in peeled, deveined raw shrimp and place the skillet in the oven. The shrimp poach in the warm grits, and the flavor is fabulous!
SHRIMP AND CHEESE GRITS RECIPE:
Makes 6 servings | Prep: 25 to 30 minutes | Cook: 10 to 15 minutes
1 1/2 pounds large shrimp, peeled and deveined
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/4 cup olive oil or vegetable oil
2 tablespoons butter
1 cup sliced mushrooms
1/2 cup sliced red bell pepper
2 to 3 cloves garlic, sliced
1/3 cup chopped green onion
1 cup chopped fresh tomato
1/2 cup chicken broth
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
Dash hot pepper or Worcestershire sauce
Chopped parsley or green onions, for garnish
Cheese Grits (see recipe)
Place the shrimp in a small bowl and season with salt and pepper and toss with the flour. Set aside.
Place the oil in a cast iron or other large skillet and heat over medium-high, and when hot add the shrimp a few at a time, and cook through, 1 to 2 minutes per batch. Remove to a plate and continue until the rest of the shrimp have cooked.
Place the butter in the skillet over medium heat, and add the mushrooms, red pepper, garlic, and green onion. Cook, stirring until the mushrooms and peppers are soft, 5 to 6 minutes. Add the tomatoes, chicken broth, lemon juice and hot sauce or Worcestershire sauce. Add the shrimp and their cooking juices back to the pan. Stir and cook over medium-high heat until the tomatoes cook out some of their liquid, and the shrimp cook all the way through, 2 to 3 minutes. Spoon shrimp over grits, and garnish with chopped parsley or green onions.
How to Make Cheese Grits: Follow cooking directions on the box or bag of grits. However, do not cook the grits in all water. Cook in half water and half milk. And add 1 to 2 cloves minced garlic to the cooking water, as well as salt and pepper. When the grits have cooked per instructions, add a tablespoon butter and a handful (1 cup) shredded mild cheddar cheese or a Manchego cheese. Taste for seasoning. Add more butter and cheese, if desired.