Southern Shrimp and Grits

Southern Shrimp and Grits

Shrimp and grits is to the south, what pizza is to the northeast. If you're a southern chef, and don't make a good shrimp and grits. I'm not interested in anything else you have on the menu. It's a staple in every home kitchen from Virginia to Alabama, and everywhere in between. 

My wife is a born and raised southerner, so when I make any low country dishes, I have to bring my "A" game. Especially for the opulent shrimp and grits! This was also one of my Pop's favorite things to make, so a little nostalgia for a guy who loved to cook, and a southern staple to bring a smile to my South Carolinian wife's face. Check and Check!




  • 2-2.5 cups homemade or store-bought chicken stock
  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 1-pound large shrimp, shelled (shells reserved)
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more for seasoning
  • 1 teaspoon cornstarch
  • 1 cup grits, preferably stone-ground
  • 1 cup grated Gruyère, gouda, sharp cheddar, or a combination of all 3.
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 4 slices thick-cut bacon diced or sliced into lardons
  • Olive oil as needed
  • 1 medium shallot, minced
  • 2 medium cloves garlic, minced
  • 3 tablespoons, or more, unsalted butter, cubed
  • The juice and zest from 1 lemon
  • 1/2 tablespoon Zonk Foods New Orleans Cajun Seasoning for some spice (optional)
  • Chopped fresh parsley, and or chives to garnish



  1. In a large saucepan, combine 2.5 cups stock with reserved shrimp shells. Bring to a gentle simmer and cook for about 15 minutes. Strain and return 2 cups of stock to saucepan (reserving ½ cup), and add milk.
  2. Meanwhile, combine shrimp, salt, New Orleans Cajun Seasoning if using, and cornstarch in a medium bowl and toss to coat. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes and up to 1 hour. There should be a thin coating of cornstarch on the shrimp, add another ¼ teaspoon if needed.
  3. Whisk grits into stock and milk mixture, set over medium-high heat, and bring to a simmer, whisking frequently ensuring the grits don’t produce a film on the bottom of the pan. Lower heat to a bare simmer and cook, stirring and the bottom frequently with a wooden spoon, until grits are fully softened and cooked and are thickened. About 20-30 minutes, then cover and remove from heat to finish softening. Stir in cheese(s) until melted. Add salt and pepper to taste. Press a piece of plastic cling wrap against the top of the grits to prevent a film from forming.
  4. In a large skillet, heat bacon over high heat until sizzling. Lower heat to medium and cook, stirring, until bacon has rendered its fat and become crisp, about 5 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer bacon to paper towels to drain. Remove all but 2 tablespoons of bacon fat from the skillet, and reserve.
  5. Return skillet to medium-high heat and heat until very lightly smoking. Add shrimp and cook, stirring frequently, until lightly browned outside with only a faint trace of translucence remaining in the center of each shrimp. Transfer shrimp to a plate.
  6. If pan is dry, add more butter or bacon fat, and some olive oil. Stir in shallot and garlic, and cook until both are softened, about 2 minutes.
  7. Add remaining 1/2 cup stock and scrape up any browned bits on bottom of pan. Stir in shrimp. Lower heat to medium-low and whisk in remaining butter until fully melted and emulsified with the sauce. Remove from heat and whisk in lemon juice.
  8. Spoon grits into bowls and top with shrimp and sauce. Finish with reserved crispy bacon, lemon zest, and fresh herbs. Serve immediately



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