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Shrimp and Grits

Sauteing the shrimp in some of the bacon fat makes for truly amazing depth of flavor, but it's up to you because olive oil works just as well for this classic southern dish.
Course Main Course
Cuisine American
Keyword grits, shrimp
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes
Servings 4
Author The Cowgirl Gourmet slightly adapted this recipe from Bobby Flay Cooks American cookbook


For the cheese grits:

  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2  large yellow onion finely diced
  • 2 cloves garlic finely chopped
  • 2 cups milk
  • 3 cups water
  • 2 teaspoons kosher or sea salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 1 cup coarse ground corn meal or grits also called polenta
  • 1 1/2 cups grated cheddar cheese

For the shrimp:

  • 8 ounces applewood smoked bacon cut into 1/2 inch pieces
  • 20 large shrimp peeled and deveined
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
  • 1 cup whole peeled tomatoes or crushed tomatoes in its juice
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1/4 cup chopped scallions the white and green parts


  1. Heat a large pan over medium-high heat until the pan is piping hot. Add the chopped bacon and cook, stirring, until golden brown and delicious.

  2. With a slotted spoon, remove the bacon and place on a plate or in a bowl lined with paper towels to catch any excess grease. Remove all but 3 tablespoons of the bacon grease. Set pan aside.
  3. To make the grits, melt the butter and olive oil together in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic and cook until soft, stirring occasionally, until they wilt a bit and become translucent, about 3-5 minutes.

  4. Increase the heat to high, add the milk and water and bring to a boil. Once the liquid is boiling, slowly whisk in the grits a little bit at a time and bring back to a boil. Reduce the heat to a simmer and cook, stirring often with a wooden spoon, until the mixture is smooth and thick and falls easily off the wooden spoon, about 15-20 minutes. Add the cheese and stir until completely melted, 2-3 minutes. (Add the cheese when you put the shrimp back in the saucepan with the cooked tomatoes, then everything will be ready at the same time.) Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  5. While the grits are cooking, prepare the shrimp. Using the same pan you cooked the bacon in, heat the bacon grease over high heat--or remove the bacon dripping and grease and use olive oil. Season the shrimp with salt and pepper and toss in the pan until they curl up and turn pink and are lightly browned, about 1 1/2 - 2 minutes per side.

  6. Remove shrimp from the pan and place on a plate. Pour the tomatoes in the pan, crushing the whole tomatoes with your hands. Let cook over medium heat about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add 1 tablespoon butter and stir to combine. This should thicken the sauce nicely. Add the shrimp back into skillet and cook for 2-3 minutes, stirring, so the shrimp are completely coated in the sauce.

  7. To serve, spoon a generous serving of cheese grits into a bowl and place five shrimp and the sauce on top. Garnish with crispy bacon and chopped scallions.