Creamy shrimp and cheese grits just screams classic Southern comfort food. Truth be told, I’ve never heard of or even tasted grits until I married my husband Andre. Andre grew up in Virginia and grits were a staple in his family and one of his favorite foods growing up. Living in Arizona during the early part of our marriage I could never find grits in the grocery stores. So it wasn’t until we moved back to the East Coast that my culinary journey with grits would begin.
I’m a lucky girl. Not only do I hail from a long line of fantastic cooks, I also have wonderful cooks from my husband’s family to learn from as well. My mother in law was the one who taught me all about the simplicity and extraordinary flavors of southern comfort food. She always emphasized the importance of good seasoning in every aspect of the cooking process. I use that tidbit of info in all of my cooking and baking, it’s one of the best pieces of advice that I still use to this day! Layering flavors is the secret to great tasting food. And that’s no different when making this dish.
For this recipe I use quick cooking grits. I know some people are grit connoisseurs and only make regular or stone-ground grits. So please go ahead and make whatever kind of grits that float your boat!! I do put my own little spin when I make quick grits. Instead of following the package directions and using just water, I use a combo of milk and chicken stock. Remember, layers of flavor!! Those grits are as bland as can be, and the only chance you get to impart any flavor in them is in the cooking liquid. So be sure to add plenty of salt and pepper and even a pat or two of butter into the hot milk and chicken broth BEFORE you add the grits.
I love this meal because it’s so quick to make, It’s comes together in less than 30 minutes. So it’s a great option as a weeknight meal. The ingredients are pretty basic except for maybe the shrimp. I always buy my shrimp frozen from Costco. They are already peeled and deveined and I just have to thaw them out. Which is a real time saver. And the cost isn’t anything that will make you pass out. Unlike your total from shopping at those bulk warehouse stores! I know whenever I do my bulk shopping and the cashier tells me my total, I’m thinking to myself…what the heck did I just buy?!!!
My most favorite part of this dish, and the thing that ties the whole dish together, is the sauce. It’s part gravy, part cream sauce, and to put it plainly, it’s freakin’ good! It’s velvety smooth, full of flavor and even has a hint of spice. I start with some diced bacon and saute it until it’s nice and crispy and save all that delicious bacon fat. That fat is the base for our sauce. You could even use some diced andouille sausage instead of the bacon if you really wanted to kick up the spice level in the dish. I haven’t tried that yet since my youngest isn’t a fan of anything too spicy but I bet it would be good. I also use a generous swirl of sriracha when I finish the sauce, it’s not too spicy, it adds a level of flavor and zing that wakes up your tastes buds. But you could really use any kind of hot sauce your family likes or even omit it.
This is one of those recipes that can be customized to suit you and your family’s tastes. Play around with the flavors and spice level. My family prefers this dish with cheese grits but you can make just plain grits. I’ve made it both ways and they are both scrumptious. One thing that I’ve learned when cooking is to not be intimidated by new things. Try new flavors and foods, and if you haven’t ever tried grits, give this recipe a try. My take on the classic combo of shrimp and grits will not disappoint!
Creamy Shrimp and Grits Recipe
Quick cooking grits (prepare to package directions, but use combo of chicken broth and milk instead of water)
Salt and pepper
1 C cheddar cheese for grits (if desired)
6 slices bacon diced
1 1/2 pounds of shrimp (peeled & deveined)
1 onion finely diced
3 cloves garlic finely diced
3 Tbs cornstarch
1 1/2 C chicken stock
1 C heavy cream
1 Tbs sriracha or hot sauce
1/4 cayenne pepper
Salt and pepper
1/4 C green onion chopped
Prepare grits according to package directions substituting combo of chicken broth and milk for water. Set aside and keep warm. If you would like cheesy grits just stir in about 1 cup of shredded cheddar cheese once grits are cooked. The amount of cheese is appropriate for 6 servings of grits.
In a large sauté pan cook the diced bacon until crispy. Remove pan from heat and remove bacon with a slotted spoon and place on a paper towel lined plate.
Rinse and dry shrimp. Season shrimp with the cayenne pepper, paprika, and salt and pepper.
Return sauté pan to the heat and cook shrimp about 2 minutes on each side. You might need to cook the shrimp in several batches depending on size of pan. Place shrimp on a platter and set aside.
Add the diced onion to the sauté pan and cook until softened. Add the garlic and cook for about a minute.
Sprinkle the cornstarch over onions and garlic and cook for another 1-2 minutes stirring constantly. Whisk in the chicken stock and cook until sauce thickens. Whisk in the heavy cream and sriracha. Cook until sauce thickens and then taste sauce. Adjust seasoning is necessary.
Return the shrimp back to the pan with the sauce and cook for another 3-5 minutes.
Stir in the bacon and green onions.
Serve shrimp and sauce over cheese grits and garnish with green onions and parsley if desired.
This recipe will serve 5-6 adults.