For Sam’s birthday, I wanted to make him something fancy tasty and looking–something special. Sam is not from a household that ate many grits in his childhood, but he has come to the right side and now loves them! They were an obvious choice for his Monday night birthday dinner. Classic Southern Shrimp and Grits. In my opinion, it doesn’t get much better!
For all my fancy aspirations however, I’m also a realist to balance it all. Something my graduate school professor said in 2010 turned me; “The first few times you do anything, plan for it to take 3 times as long as you think. The same applies to anything with a deadline”. I apply this rationale to some part of my day, just about every day, and a birthday dinner was definitely no exception. It’s a good thing, too, because I ended up with a migraine on this special day and I didn’t even get a chance to begin dinner until 4:52 pm (Sam gets home at 5:30 pm and everyone is hungry). Bottom line: we needed something fast because I just hadn’t had the time I thought I would to make dinner.
I found a quick recipe for Shrimp and Grits, but as I read over it already in my kitchen with thawed shrimp and pans at the ready, I realized this version was not going to be as flavorful as I wanted. Naturally, I pulled a Lee and changed just about everything in the recipe for an end result that Sam praised as “SO GOOD! Like, high-priced-restaurant-quality good!”. I took notes while I was making changes to ensure you’ll get the same results I did.
Waters + Bennett’s Shrimp & Grits
Prep: time : 10-15 minutes Cook time: 25-30 minutes Serves: 4 (with no second helpings)
- 1 C. 2% or whole fat milk
- 3 C. water
- 1/2 t. salt
- 1/4 t. pepper
- 1 C. quick cooking grits (Get the type that take 5 minutes to cook, do NOT get instant grits. I like the Quaker brand or I get them from the Whole Foods bulk bins.)
- 4 strips bacon
- 1 1/2 stalks of celery, diced
- 4 scallions, thinly sliced
- 1 pound large shrimp, peeled and deveined (Peeled before cooking is easiest for most people, but I think the shrimp retain more flavor by cooking in their shells, so I peel them after they cook and then plate them. Messy, but worth it. It’s your call!)
- 3/4 t. Old Bay seasoning (It has to be Old Bay!)
- 2 t. Frank’s RedHot Original Red Hot Sauce
- 1/2 C. water
- 1/4 C. grated parmesan cheese
- 3/4 C. shredded cheddar
- Make grits: in a large saucepan mix water, milk, salt and pepper with grits, whisking to ensure there are no lumps. Bring the mixture to a boil, then lower heat so that it simmers for 5 minutes total, covering the pan. Whisk once a minute for five minutes total, returning the lid after each quick whisk. After 5 minutes of simmering, turn off heat and cover grits with the lid.
- Cut up your celery and scallions while grits are cooking.
- Mix the parmesan and 1/2 C. of cheddar (reserving the extra 1/4 C. of cheddar for garnish) into the grits and replace the lid.
- Use kitchen scissors to snip 4 strips of bacon into a separate large frying pan over medium-high heat. Cook bacon for several minutes until it is crisp. Use a slotted spoon to remove the bacon and place on a paper towel to drain, but keep the bacon grease where it is.
- Turn heat to medium. Place diced celery and white parts of the scallions into bacon grease and cook until crisp tender–another 5 minutes.
- Stir in shrimp, Old Bay seasoning, Frank’s hot sauce, and another 1/2 C. of water.
- Saute shrimp until they are opaque and pink in color–about 3 minutes. Remove from heat. During this time: crumble your bacon into smaller garnish sized pieces.
- To plate: re-whisk the grits and portion into 4 bowls. Top grits with shrimp mixture, remaining cheddar cheese, the crumbled bacon, the green parts of the scallions. Finish by drizzling some of the pan juices from the shrimp around the edge of the bowl.
Fancy. Tasty. Fast. Enjoy!!