Shrimp and Grits

Recipe Testers,

On Saturday I FINALLY measured the ingredients for the shrimp and grits that literally hundreds of people have asked me for the recipe for. Before I could only have told you the technique, ingredients and method. But I actually forced myself to measure so we could type it up. It is a fabulous dish. If there is an ounce of the cream sauce left, use a piece of bread to lap it up. I could just eat it with a spoon. There are many ways to make this dish more elaborate. I prefer to keep it simple. My enormous thanks again to Sandra Zahoudanis and Christy Cushman. Both of them are what made this recipe what it is. I feel a little guilty for getting so many oohs and ahhs for making them. Most of my signature dishes I made up completely by myself. But in this case, I just needed to learn from two masters in the kitchen. I’m so glad to be able to pass this on to all of you, so you can get oohs and aahhs. I also attached small versions of some pictures below. Note that the bottom 3 pictures are when we made the shrimp and grits for almost 300 people. Note the giant pots of grits on the back of the stoves that Ana, Nirahsa and Rayo were cooking on. They had grits in the back and big sauté pans for the shrimp in the front. It’s much easier to make for 4 or 6 people.

Cook with passion and joy!


“I feel a recipe is only a theme, which an intelligent cook can play each time with a variation.” –Madam Benoit

Shrimp and Grits

Serves 4-6

The first time I had shrimp and grits was in Sandra Zahoudanis’s kitchen at their Demetria Estates winery. Sandra is originally from South Carolina and she was teaching me how to make shrimp and grits for Demi and Bill’s wedding. From the first bite, I was humbled. How could I possibly recreate something so delicious! Then Christy Cushman gave made me the Hoppin John’s grits from South Carolina and taught me how to make them with plenty of butter, salt and cream. YUM!! So from two of my favorite people, Sandra and Christy, came one of my most favorite recipes. Because this is so rich, I think it is an ideal first course that leaves each guest begging for more.

For the Grits:
3 cups water, plus more as needed
1 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
2 tablespoons butter
1 cup white grits
1 to 2 cups cream, half and half or whole milk

For the Shrimp:
4 pieces of thick cut bacon, diced
1/2 yellow onion, diced
1/2 cup white wine
3/4 cup heavy cream (half and half can be substituted)
Dash of Tabasco
12 large white shrimp
2 tablespoons oil
Minced parsley or chives

1. In a saucepan bring the water to a boil and add the salt. Add the two tablespoons of butter. Slowly pour in the grits while stirring. Return to a boil and then reduce the heat, allowing the grits to cook for about 10 minutes or until they have absorbed most of the water. Stir occasionally to make sure they don’t stick.

2. Add about 1/2 cup of cream and cook until it is absorbed. Then add more cream or milk as the grits cook and the liquid evaporates. It will take almost an hour if you are using stone ground grits. You’ll need to add liquid about every 10 minutes. Adjust seasoning with salt and pepper.

3. While the grits are cooking, get started on the bacon. In a large sauté pan (frying pan) cook the diced bacon until crispy. Remove the bacon with a slotted spoon, keeping the drippings (bacon grease) in the pan. Drain bacon on a paper towel, and keep bacon to the side until you re-add it to the sauce just before serving. Saute the onion in the remaining bacon grease until soft and carmelized. About 10-15 minutes. Add 1/2 cup white wine to the pan and let it reduce by half. Then add 3/4 cup heavy cream and let that reduce by half. Sprinkle with a pinch of salt, but be careful not to oversalt because the bacon is salty. (The sauce can be made ahead of time up to this point and held for an hour. Then reheat before service.)

4. Heat a separate frying pan over medium high heat. Season shrimp with salt. Put two tablespoons of oil or butter in the pan and sauté the shrimp on both sides. Do not overcook the shrimp.

5. Add the bacon back into the cream sauce. You can either add the Tabasco directly to the cream sauce or you can drizzle Tabasco over the shrimp. (usually I say “your favorite hot sauce” but in this case, Tabasco is the taste that goes perfectly with this!)

5. You can serve the shrimp and grits in a small bowl or on a plate, since the grits are thick enough to stay still and not run. Place the grits first. Then either 2 or 3 pieces of shrimp per person. Then pour the bacon cream sauce over the shrimp. Drizzle with Tabasco if you haven’t already added it. Garnish with chopped parsley or chives. Serve immediately.

Maili’s Notes: I love cheese and I love cheese grits. But for some reason I like this version of grits without the cheese. Feel free to improvise. I know some Lowcountry Southerner’s prefer thick salty country ham to bacon. Use whatever you prefer. You can have the stone ground grits shipped directly to you. The source is


Lori said…
awesome grits - my family gobbles these up!

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