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my yankee hand

June 02 2010 by Kristin at The Kitchen Sink in Uncategorized » 26 comments

Shrimp and Grits

Recipes that are regional specialties seem to require a hidden ingredient—one that cannot be picked up at the grocery store or procured by mail order.  In my mind, they require, implicitly, that you’re a native.  And the catch, of course, is that you can’t choose where you were born, where you grew up, the food on which you were raised.  For this reason, as a midwesterner and a northerner, I tend to shy away from recipes like North Carolina barbecue, New England clam chowder and Texas chili.

Shrimp and Grits

Shrimp and grits, too, is a dish that fits squarely on this list.  It gives the distinct impression that northerners need not apply.

My shrimp-and-grits hunch—that northerners shouldn’t bother—was repeatedly confirmed as I ate the dish in the south itself (including a recent, ridiculously delicious, andouille sausage-strewn iteration at Lüke in New Orleans)  and when I’ve happily tucked into the dish right here in Chicago, noting that the menus on which the dish appears always boast a chef with southern roots.  So, despite the fact that I can saute shrimp with ease and I can make a decent polenta (grits by another name, in my book), I long ago resigned myself to eating shrimp and grits in restaurants only.

Shrimp and GritsShrimp and Grits

All this changed when I recently happened across a Paula Deen recipe.  The fact that the recipe has ties to the south and the fact that it called for several different types of animal fats were not a surprise—this was a Paula Deen recipe, after all.  No, it was the fact that the recipe was stamped with the approval of Bobby Flay, who had made Deen’s recipe on one of his television shows.  If Bobby—a northerner—could do it, I wondered, why can’t I?  So, like Bobby, I relied on Paula Deen’s sure southern guidance.

Shrimp and Grits

And it turns out that there’s nothing to it. The recipe was dead simple—and drop-dead delicious, too.  Shrimp are quickly sauteed in bacon drippings, before they curl up on a golden bed of grits, enriched with cheddar cheese and butter, and are scattered with a perky sauce of sauteed scallions, garlic, parsley and lemon juice.  For good measure, the crisp bacon, fried for the benefit of rendering its grease for the shrimp to saute in, is crumbled on top, adding a perfect savory saltiness.

Shrimp and Grits

For the life of me, I can’t figure out what took me so long to try my yankee hand at this.  But I can tell you that I’ll be doing it again real soon.

Shrimp and Grits
Adapted from Paula Deen by way of Bobby Flay

Yield: 4 servings

4 cups water
Salt and pepper
1 cup stone-ground grits
1 tablespoon butter
2 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese
1 pound shrimp, peeled and deveined
6 slices bacon, chopped
4 teaspoons lemon juice
2 tablespoons chopped parsley
1 cup thinly sliced scallions
1 large clove garlic, minced

Bring water to a boil. Add salt and pepper. Add grits and cook until water is absorbed, about 20 to 25 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in butter and cheese.

Rinse shrimp and pat dry. Fry the bacon in a large skillet until browned; drain well. In grease, add shrimp. Cook until shrimp turn pink. Add lemon juice, chopped bacon, parsley, scallions and garlic. Saute for 3 minutes.

Spoon grits onto plates.  Top with shrimp mixture.  Serve immediately.


26 comments so far. »
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  1. Jessica says on June 02 2010 at 2:59 pm:

    I have always wanted to try shrimp and grits, but have actually never had grits. I see bacon, so I’m in.

  2. Kim says on June 02 2010 at 3:13 pm:

    Oh my, this looks delicious. How many servings does it make?

  3. Kim says on June 02 2010 at 3:15 pm:

    PS – I am shocked to see a Paula Deen recipe that does not contain two sticks of butter! Love it! :)

  4. Kristin at The Kitchen Sink says on June 02 2010 at 3:20 pm:

    Jessica: Oh, you must try grits! So good. (Plus, there’s the bacon … )

    Kim: Thanks for asking! I’ve updated the recipe to reflect the yield (4 servings). And, for the record, I reduced the butter in the original recipe (which called for half a stick I think).

  5. Sara says on June 02 2010 at 3:23 pm:

    Looks yummy! I’ve been meaning to make the version made on a season of Top Chef. Inspires me to try again!

  6. Maddie says on June 02 2010 at 3:28 pm:

    My favorite Paula Deen moment is when she made a cheeseburger, topped it with a fried egg, and used two donuts as a bun. This looks more mouthwatering, and so much more gourmet! My boyfriend’s a Southerner, so I may have to give this a good ol’ Chicagoan try. :)

  7. Kim says on June 02 2010 at 5:53 pm:

    Awesome, thanks!

  8. molly says on June 02 2010 at 7:10 pm:

    And to think I’d all but forgotten this lovely! It IS an awesome dish, even for those North of the Mason-Dixie. Will have to give this version a go.

  9. Half Assed Kitchen says on June 02 2010 at 9:20 pm:

    I think bacon grease IS the secret southern ingredient, for lots of things. I’m going to try this one, but I just can’t do the grease :) I know it won’t be as good, but it’ll have to be EVOO.

  10. Barefoot Belle says on June 02 2010 at 10:00 pm:

    Beautiful! Shrimp & Grits is one of my favorites–and I love that there are so many different recipes for this Southern classic! This looks like another good one to try.

  11. Marianne says on June 03 2010 at 12:41 am:

    I’m a Great White Northerner, and I must say, I’m not one to cook southern food either. But shrimp & grits intrigues me, especially once I found out that grits are virtually the same as polenta! I’m saving this recipe, and hopefully one day I’ll channel my inner southerner and cook me up some, as they look delicious.

  12. JennKD says on June 03 2010 at 6:50 am:

    As a southerner, I can tell you that most of it is much easier than it looks or we wouldn’t do it. It’s do hot down here to do anything too complicated (too long in the kitchen!) Some other classic dishes I encourage people to try are Chicken and Dumplings; Paula Deen’s mac and cheese is to die for; and biscuits – with a food processor they are super easy and you can freeze them uncooked and just pop them in the toaster oven when you need one.

  13. Maggie says on June 03 2010 at 7:05 am:

    Yum. Definitely bookmarking–for a night when I’m husbandless (for some reason he won’t eat shrimp.) Perfect comfort food!

  14. Anna says on June 03 2010 at 8:00 am:

    As a southern border girl (now in Chicago), I often quiet the inhibitions you mention and tweak my geography enough to feel entitled to tackle southern dishes. I recently made a version of Shrimp and Grits at home that was delicious – very similar to this, but with an addition you might like: I used a large knife to strip fresh kernels off corn cobs, and sauteed the kernels in a little bit of the bacon fat just for a minute (to be cooked but still crunchy), then added a squeeze of lime. I layered the fresh corn sautee on the grits along with the shrimp, and it added another dimension of texture and taste.

  15. Jen says on June 03 2010 at 8:29 am:

    I am SO making this for dinner tonight! I’m in Virginia, that’s South enough!

  16. Barbara says on June 03 2010 at 8:43 am:

    You are becoming a southerner!! I adore grits…cheese grits for breakfast are a favorite around my house.
    Love your shrimp/grits dish! I think you’re going to have some grits converts!

  17. Whitney says on June 03 2010 at 9:41 am:

    Your Yankee hand shouldn’t shy away from Texas Chili. Although I’m being a bad Texan when I say that I prefer beans in my chili :)

    I wish I had a bowl of that Shrimp and Grits right now.

  18. heather @ chiknpastry says on June 03 2010 at 11:13 am:

    I think these shrimp n’ grits look great – and I promise you I’m a true southern girl (hence the blog title – my favorite southern dish that my aunt makes PERFECTLY is chicken and pastry (or dumplings, as some prefer)).

    i do agree with half-assed kitchen’s comment above – you gotta have the bacon grease. no big deal! it’s just grease :).

    next, I think you should try NC barbeque – just please use the vinegar-based bbq sauce. please…

  19. Laura says on June 03 2010 at 3:58 pm:

    oohhh thank you for posting this! i’m always on the look out for good shrimp n grits recipes!

  20. damaris says on June 03 2010 at 9:16 pm:

    yes this looks absolutely mouth watering.

  21. kate says on June 04 2010 at 6:35 am:

    I’m SO with you on that ‘I’m a Northern girl and Southern comfort food never works for me.’ but it hasn’t ever stopped me from trying. And grits crossed my plate several times in which I thought they tasted fine until I had them in a tiny corner cafe that specialized in Southern cooking, right here in the heart of my Northern town. I realized then that I had no clue how it was done and I gave up. I’ll happily leave the true regional heart of a cuisine to the Masters, but if I ever want to get adventurous again, this recipe is where I will go.

  22. Hannah says on June 04 2010 at 10:57 am:

    Shrimp and grits is one of my favorite meals, ever. I think it needs to sweep the nation with it’s deliciousness. Yours looks perfect.

  23. Dawn (KitchenTravels) says on June 04 2010 at 10:57 am:

    Simply beautiful, this one. Of course, a true Southerner may take you to task for equating polenta with hominy grits. ;)

    I seem to recall that Gourmet Magazine ran a feature on “Low Country” foods a few years ago… shrimp & grits is classic low country food, I hear. I’ll have to dig up that issue. Always happy for an excuse to re-read my old Gourmets (sniff). And I just love Anna’s idea of adding sauteed fresh corn to the mix!

  24. Stash says on June 08 2010 at 1:36 pm:

    When I was growing up, a secret (and frequent) pleasure was to go to the library and spend the afternoon reading cookbooks.

    Not just any cookbooks, mind you, but volumes from the Time-Life Foods of the World cookbooks. If you’ve ever managed to come across these, each “volume” consisted of two books: a hardbound travelogue that exhibited some of the most exquisite food writing this side of MFK Fisher (and a scattering of recipes) and a softbound spiral “notebook” that was about 99% recipes.

    One of the best volumes happens to be, in my mind, the volume on the Cajun and Creole cuisine. These days, you can collect a complete set by way of Amazon.

    It was in this volume that I first learned of _________ with grits — in this case, it was grillades and grits. Shrimp and grits seems to be the seafood version.

  25. Dana E says on June 17 2010 at 8:26 am:

    This look ABSOLUTELY divine … and I don’t eat shrimp or bacon!!!!

  26. Mali from Austin says on August 03 2010 at 6:43 pm:

    Bobby Flay’s yankee self is married to a Texas Girl so that must be what has rubbed off on him. Shrimp & Grits are great but some of y’all may think of it as polenta, same texture.

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