Over the years, different members of my family have made their own changes to the classic shrimp and grits. Everyone has a different taste—some like it spicy, others, not so much. That’s the great thing about this dish. It’s so easy to customize based on what you like most. I prefer mine on the spicy side of things. My mom adds more veggies like red and green peppers. Some of my favorite restaurants have added stewed tomatoes and even pulled pork or Andouille sausage. It really is a matter of personal preference.
Feel free to use my recipe as a guide. Make it your own, and share what new and yummy combinations you come up with.
1 pound peeled and deveined shrimp, cut into bite-size pieces1 pound bacon, cut or crumbled2 cups of sliced mushrooms1 tablespoon Cajun seasoning1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes 1 tablespoon Italian seasoning1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil4 cloves of garlic, minced 2 tablespoons butter or margarine Half of a yellow onion, diced
Grits:1 cup quick grits2 cups water1 cup milk2 chicken bullion cubes5 tablespoons butter or margarine2 cups shredded white cheddar cheese
Garnish:4 green onion stalks, sliced
Directions:1. If not already done, peel and devein the shrimp and cut into bite-size chunks (usually thirds, depending on the size of the shrimp)2. Combine olive oil, Cajun seasoning, Italian seasoning, and red pepper flakes. Whisk until completely mixed, and add shrimp. Let marinate for around 30 minutes. 3. Chop the bacon into chunks. Place in an ungreased, cold pan. After all the bacon is added, turn on the burner to medium-high heat (starting in a cold pan makes the bacon crispier). Cook bacon until crispy. Use a slotted spoon to remove the bacon from the pan. Let it dry on a paper towel and set aside. 4. Drain most, but not all, of the bacon grease. Leave enough so that a thin layer coats the bottom of the pan. 5. Turn the heat back up to medium, and add the butter and garlic to the pan with the bacon grease. 6. When the garlic starts to brown and becomes aromatic (about 3 minutes), add the yellow onion and cook until translucent (about 5-7 minutes). 7. Add the mushrooms and cook until lightly browned (about 4-5 minutes). 8. Add the shrimp and the marinade to the pan. Incorporate all the vegetables with the rest of the mixture. Cook it all together until the shrimp are just pink. You want them cooked through, but not overdone. It should take no more than a few minutes, and will go by quicker if you use a lid to cover the pan. 9. Finally, reduce hit to a simmer and mix in the crumbled bacon. Don’t leave it on the heat too long or the bacon will get soggy.
Grits Directions:I used Quaker quick grits for this recipe, and followed the instructions for four servings. Each kind of grits is probably going to have a different proportion of grits to water. What I do is take away one of the required cups of water (this recipe asked for three cups of water) and replace it with milk or heavy cream (I used skim, but use whatever you prefer). So follow the quick grits proportions, and it should all work out.
The grits usually take under 10 minutes to cook if you already have everything measured. When you start making them is totally up to you. If you don’t think you can watch them to make sure they don’t stick and sauté the shrimp mixture at the same time, just wait until the shrimp is done and start the grits. I usually start them when I put the onions on.
1. Add water to a pot and bring to a boil. 2. Add the grits and stir until combined. Cover and let it boil together at a medium-high heat until grits thicken (2-3 minutes). 3. Reduce heat and add the butter. Stir until all the butter is melted and the grits aren’t sticking to the bottom of the pot. 4. Once the grits start to pop (like it’s trying to boil), add the milk, and turn the heat back up to a medium-high setting. Stir to combine, then cover to continue cooking and thickening. This should take just a few minutes. Stir occasionally to keep the grits from sticking. 5. Once the grits start to bubble again, reduce heat and add the white cheddar. Stir until completely melted and incorporated. This goes by quicker if the cheese is shredded or cut into small blocks. You can use any cheese, but I prefer sharp white cheddar for the taste and that it melts down well. 6. Remove from heat. Spoon into a bowl or onto a plate and top with the shrimp mixture. Garnish with green onions and serve with crusty French bread.