Shrimp and grits – It’s a Southern thing

Shrimp and grits

To be completely honest, I disliked grits for most of my life. My mom loved them. Dean loves them. And now I love them. Dean was raised with the rule that you had to at least eat a couple of bites of something before you could say you didn’t like it. And because of that Dean has one the broadest palates I’ve ever seen. So my hat’s off to Denny and Sharon.

Now back to the dish at hand – shrimp and grits. I came across this recipe about a month ago, and thought ‘wow this looks really good.’ As stated before, I disliked grits until about a year ago. I have tried to eat them at different times during my life, a spoonful here and taste there. One day Dean and I were out to lunch and he ordered cheese grits with his pulled chicken. Dean commented on how creamy the grits were and that I had to try them. I said the same thing I always say ‘I’ll do it because you want me to, but I’m still not going to like them.’ Well I had to eat my words that day because they were good! So I started looking for recipes for cheesy grits or shrimp and grits. And this is the one I went with. Now with a lot of southern recipes, this is not figure friendly. There is cream, white cheddar cheese, and bacon. (G0sh, it has to taste good!)

Changes: I used a pound of large shrimp instead of buying the extra large shrimp mainly because of the price difference. Also instead of wrapping the shrimp in bacon, I fried the bacon and crumbled it over the shrimp and grits. I used 2 tablespoons of the bacon grease to saute the shrimp. I tossed the raw shrimp in the Essence and then sauteed it for 5-6 minutes. I didn’t fix the crispy spinach, but I have made that spinach before and it is delightful.

Bacon-Wrapped Gulf Shrimp with Creamy White Cheddar Grits, Crispy Spinach and a Sweet Spicy Tomato Jam
Recipe courtesy Emeril Lagasse, 2006

18 strips bacon
18 jumbo shrimp (16-20’s) about 1 1/4 pounds
1 1/2 teaspoons Essence, recipe follows
1/4 cup olive oil
1 recipe Cheesy Grits, recipe follows
1 recipe Fried Spinach, recipe follows
1 recipe Tomato Jam, recipe follows

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Cut 2 inches off of each strip of bacon and reserve the short pieces for another use. Place the trimmed strips of bacon on a sheet pan and bake the bacon until slightly pink and some of the fat has rendered out of it, about 6 minutes. While the bacon is cooking, peel the shrimp, leaving the tails attached. De-vein and set aside, refrigerated, until ready to use. Remove the pan from the oven and allow the bacon to cool. Once the bacon is cool enough to handle, season the shrimp with the Essence and wrap a strip of the parcooked bacon around each shrimp, slightly overlapping the bacon as you twist it around the shrimp. Set aside and repeat with the remaining shrimp and bacon slices. Set a 12-inch saute pan over medium heat, and add the olive oil to the pan. Once the oil is hot, lay the shrimp in the pan and cook for 2 1/2 minutes. Turn the shrimp over and cook another 2 1/2 minutes. Serve the shrimp over the top of Cheesy Grits and garnish with the Fried Spinach. Drizzle the Tomato Jam decoratively over each plate.

Emeril’s ESSENCE Creole Seasoning (also referred to as Bayou Blast):
2 1/2 tablespoons paprika
2 tablespoons salt
2 tablespoons garlic powder 1 tablespoon black pepper
1 tablespoon onion powder
1 tablespoon cayenne pepper
1 tablespoon dried oregano
1 tablespoon dried thyme

Combine all ingredients thoroughly.
Yield: 2/3 cup

Recipe from “New New Orleans Cooking”, by Emeril Lagasse and Jessie Tirsch, published by William and Morrow, 1993.

Cheesy Grits:
6 cups water
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 1/2 cups quick cooking or old-fashioned grits (not instant)
2 cups milk
1 cup heavy cream
8 tablespoons butter
1/2 teaspoon fresh cracked black pepper
1 1/2 cups shredded white Cheddar

In a large, heavy saucepan bring the water to a boil. Add a generous teaspoon of salt and the grits and stir with a wooden spoon to combine. When the grits thicken, add the milk, cream and butter and return to a boil. Reduce the heat to a simmer, cover the saucepan and cook for 45 minutes to 1 hour, or until the grits are tender, smooth and creamy. Taste and season the grits with the remaining salt and pepper. (If the grits seem too runny simply allow to cook a bit longer, uncovered and stirring frequently, until the desired consistency is reached.) Fold the cheese into the grits, and keep covered and warm until ready to use.

Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 45 minutes

Fried Spinach:
1/2 pound baby spinach
Salt and pepper

Preheat a fryer or large Dutch oven half-filled with vegetable oil to 350 degrees F. Place the spinach in the oil and fry until dark green and crispy, 30 to 45 seconds. Remove from the oil and place on a paper-lined sheet pan and season with salt and pepper. Set aside until ready to use.

Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 1 minute

Tomato Jam:
1 cup peeled, seeded and chopped tomatoes
1/2 cup rice wine vinegar
2 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon light corn syrup
1 tablespoon honey
2 teaspoons minced garlic
1/4 teaspoon toasted, ground coriander

Combine all the ingredients in a small saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer and cook, stirring occasionally, until most of the liquid has evaporated, about 20 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and allow to cool to room temperature before serving.

Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 25 minutes

Originally uploaded by jenianddean.



Filed under Emeril, Entrees, Seafood, Shrimp

3 responses to “Shrimp and grits – It’s a Southern thing

  1. Judy

    Hey this looks so good I was drooling after finishing reading it. Your are great

  2. Clay

    I hate grits. I don’t dislike them, IIt’s not one of those “they aren’t my favorite” things, I don’t even like them a little bit, I in fact hate them.

    And yet I love this dish. Way to go Jeni, you found maybe the one grits dish in the world I actually like. This was just wonderful!! Definitely going in my recipe file.

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