Shrimp and grits is one of my favorite dishes to prepare when friends come over. It is simple to make, relatively inexpensive and delicious, as long as you use the best ingredients, of course!
It wasn’t that long ago that you would have been hard pressed to find shrimp and grits on a local menu. A few restaurants in Mobile and New Orleans picked it up and it spread rapidly after that. Its origins are in the Carolina Low Country.
There are lots of versions of this recipe, but I have settled on one that I really like. I only use Original Grit Girl grits, which can be found at Desporte’s and the Saturday morning Fresh Market in Ocean Springs. They are of the highest quality and are absolutely fresh, which makes all the difference in the world. I pour my cooked grits into muffin molds, which makes for a much better presentation than just slapping a spoonful on a plate.
The recipe is simple: 2 cups chicken stock, 1 cup heavy cream, red pepper flakes, diced smoked pork chops and gruyere cheese. Sauté the smoked ham in a little oil until well browned, remove and set aside. In the same pan, combine 1 cup grits, 2 cups stock and 1 cup cream, season, bring to a boil, cover and reduce to a low simmer. Usually takes about 20 minutes. Stir often. Just before they are done, add the cheese (about a cup) and the ham. Pour into molds and allow to solidify.
Season the shrimp aggressively with Tonys and sauté in a very hot pan for just a minute or so, do not over crowd the pan. Remove and set aside. Dice a heirloom tomato, a seeded jalapeno pepper and 1 bell pepper. Combine and sauté in butter until the tomato starts to fall apart. Add the shrimp and top the grit cakes with the mixture and serve at once.
I sometimes serve shrimp and grits with collard greens, for something just a bit different.