Shrimp and Grits, the most famous dish of the South Carolina Lowcountry, is really more of a concept than a particular dish, and there are dozens of delicious variations on the theme.
My version is a “re-mix” of the classic ingredients into something that’s elegant enough for a weekend dinner party, but simple enough to make for a weekday family dinner. It can even be prepared ahead to the point where final cooking time is about 15 minutes!
Here’s a photo of the Coastal Carolina Shrimp and Grits Tart below.
4 cups water (or 3-1/2 cups water & 1/2 cup milk)
1 cup regular or “quick” (not “instant”) yellow grits (or substitute an equal amount of polenta)
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp white pepper
½ tsp celery seeds (optional)
1 Tbsp canola or light olive oil
1 - 16 oz bag frozen multicolor pepper & onion mix
1 clove garlic, minced
1/4 tsp seasoned salt or Cajun-style spice blend
1/2 tsp dried marjoram
1 Roma tomato, diced (juice reserved)
2-3 Tbsp toasted sesame seeds (optional)
2 Tbsp butter
1 large clove garlic, minced
1 Tbsp minced chives
1 lb large shrimp, peeled & deveined (watch our video which shows how to easily peel, process, and devein shrimp)
1 tsp sweet paprika
1 Tbsp minced parsley
2-3 dashes hot pepper sauce (optional)
2 oz sharp cheddar cheese
2-3 Tbsp real bacon bits (or smoked ham bits; see Cook’s Notes)
2 scallions (green parts only), sliced in thin diagonal strips (about 2 Tbsp)
Cook the grits (see Cook’s Notes) with the salt, white pepper and celery seeds (if using), stirring often, until well thickened and creamy.
While grits are cooking, heat the oil in a large, non-stick saute pan or skillet over medium-high heat. Saute the pepper & onion mix, garlic, seasoned salt, and marjoram until vegetables are just tender (about 10-12 minutes.) Stir in the diced tomato and juice. Remove from heat.
When the grits are done, remove from heat, uncover, and allow to “set up” for 10 - 15 minutes. Meanwhile, pre-heat oven to 425 degrees and lightly coat the inside of an 8 or 9 inch non-stick springform pan with cooking spray and sprinkle the sides with the sesame seeds, if desired.
Using a flexible spatula, spread the grits in the springform pan, making an even layer on the bottom and spreading a “crust” up the side about 1 inch above the bottom layer.
Don’t worry about getting the sides exactly even (rough is good!) Distribute the pepper & onion mix over the bottom and gently press into the grits. Bake for 15 minutes.
**Note: This recipe can be made ahead to this point and refrigerated. (When ready to finish, re-warm in oven for 10 minutes while preparing shrimp.)**
While grits are baking, melt the butter in a large, non-stick saute pan or skillet over medium-high heat and saute the garlic and chives for a minute or two. Add the shrimp, sprinkle on the paprika, parsley, and the hot pepper sauce (if using), stir well and saute until shrimp have just turned opaque (3-5 minutes.) Taste for salt.
Spread the shrimp evenly on top of the pepper & onion mix and grate the cheddar on top using a large hole grater. Sprinkle on the bacon or ham bits and the scallions; bake for 5 minutes more. Remove from oven and let rest for 10 minutes.
Makes 6 Servings.
An easier method for cooking grits (and polenta, too): thoroughly whisk all the grits into the cold water right at the beginning. Continue to whisk regularly as the water heats up and they’ll turn out creamy and lump-free every time.
Also, don’t worry about overcooking – grits improve with a longer cooking time than the package directions call for.
A tasty alternative to real bacon: cut very lean smoked ham into small pieces and saute until nicely browned.
You can also see our list of delicious seafood recipes, organized by type of fish to make it easier for you to find culinary inspiration and ideas.
Please join us for tomorrow’s edition of our special Seafood and Pasta Series when we’ll share our original recipe for Mac and Cheese Paella With Shrimp and Scallops.
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