Perhaps the easiest and classiest meal to make at home is shrimp and grits. With only a few central ingredients, there are so many ways to customize the simply southern dish. And now that fall is approaching and the temperature’s dropping, this dish will surely keep your belly warm and full on those first chilly nights.
Tommy Thompson of Florida Sportsman knows his way around a batch of shrimp and grits. On a 2013 episode of Sportsman’s Kitchen, Thompson taught fellow Outsiders an introduction on how to whip up the quick and delicious meal. Recently, though the talented chef decided readers were ready for the 201 version of the recipe.
In his August post, Thompson shared that one of the most important steps in making shrimp and grits is caring for the meat. The chef stated that not all shrimp share the same high quality. In fact, home cooks should pay attention to the size, source and quality of vendors when grocery shopping for the dish.
“Most important is the source of your shrimp,” Thompson wrote. “Be sure to check that the shrimp you’re buying are WILD-CAUGHT.”
Check out his version of shrimp and grits with andouille sausage and pancetta.
Shrimp ‘n Grits Recipe
Cooking Time: 45 minutes
1 cup uncooked grits (makes 2 cups, cooked)
4 ounces salted butter or shredded cheddar cheese
3 cups water and 1 cup milk
Extra virgin olive oil
1 cup chopped pancetta or thick-cut bacon
½ cup very thinly sliced Andouille sausage
1 pound wild-caught shrimp, peeled and deveined, lightly dusted with Zatarain’s Fish-Fri
Scallions, chopped, for garnish
1. First, cook the grits. The addition of salt, butter and milk and a long, slow 30-minute simmer is important. If you’re so inclined, substitute shredded cheddar cheese for the butter. A rough measure of liquid to uncooked grits is 4 to 1.
2. Next, in a frying pan, over medium heat, in a tablespoon or two of olive oil, cook the pancetta and sausage until crisp.
3. Set the cooked meats aside and sauté the lightly breaded shrimp in the remaining fat. Take care not to overcook, remembering, “C’s NOT O’s” is the formula for cooking shrimp.
4. To finish, spoon the meat and shrimp over a bowl of grits, garnish with some sliced scallions and a splash of Tabasco sauce.
Florida Chef Advises Against Adding Cheese to Shrimp ‘n Grits Recipe
Some fans of the well-loved dish might notice that a popular addition to the dish is missing – a hunk of gooey, melted cheese. While many chefs like to include cheese in their recipe to add an extra bit of fat and flavor, Thompson explained that the ingredient can also mask a lot of the other flavors from the shrimp and grain.
“In the part of Florida I grew up in (North Central), grits were served with fried fish, or with breakfast–not with cheese, but with butter, salt and black pepper,” the chef shared. “For this recipe, I believe in adding flavor with the toppings, and tasting the corn flavor of the grits.”