In the Lowcountry of South Carolina and particularly Charleston, shrimp and grits has been considered a basic breakfast for coastal fishermen and families for decades during the shrimp season (May through December). Simply called ‘breakfast shrimp,” the dish consisted of a pot of grits with shrimp cooked in a little bacon grease or butter. During the past decade, this dish has been dressed up and taken out on the town to the fanciest restaurants. Not just for breakfast anymore, it is also served for brunch, lunch, and dinner.

Ingredients
  • 1 pound large raw shrimp, peeled and deveined *
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 2 cups water
  • 1½ cups hot stock (shrimp, chicken or vegetable)
  • ¼ cup butter
  • Salt and black pepper to taste
  • 1 cup stone-ground grits **
  • 3 tablespoons freshly-squeezed lemon juice
  • Salt and black pepper to taste
  • 6 bacon slices
  • 2 tablespoons finely-chopped onion
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoons finely-chopped green or red bell pepper
  • Instructions

    * Add additional flavor: Place the shells of the shrimp in a saucepan and cover with water. Simmer over low heat approximately 7 to 10 minutes. Remove from heat and strain the broth, discarding shells. Add shrimp broth to hot stock.

    ** If using quick-cooking grits (not instant), reduce cream to ½ cup and reduce stock to 1 cup.

    In a large saucepan over medium-high heat, combine cream, water and hot stock; bring to a gentle boil. Add butter salt and pepper. Slowly add grits, stirring constantly (so that the grits do not settle to the bottom and scorch), until all are added; reduce heat to medium-low. Cook for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally (be careful not to scorch mixture), or until the grits are tender.

    Grits should have absorbed all of the liquid and become soft and should have the same consistency as oatmeal (moist, not dry). If the grits become too thick, add warm stock or water to thin and remove from heat.

    Sprinkle shrimp with lemon juice, salt, and pepper; set aside.

    In a large frying pan over medium-high heat, cook bacon until brown but not crisp. Remove from heat and pat dry with paper towels; set aside. Coarsely chop bacon when cool. Reserve 4 tablespoons bacon grease in the frying pan. Add onion, garlic, and green or red bell pepper; sauté 10 minutes or until the onion is transparent. Add shrimp mixture and bacon; sauté 5 to 7 minutes or until shrimp are opaque in center (cut to test). Remove from heat.

    To serve, spoon hot grits onto individual serving plates and top with shrimp mixture.

    Makes 4 servings.

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