Shrimp and Grits is a definite first for the blog. Not a first for me, personally, since I’ve made it more times than I can count. Rather, it’s a first in the sense that this food has yet to be mentioned in star Trek from what I can tell. I mean, they’ve mentioned Shrimp, obviously. They’ve even mentioned grits before. But never the combination of the two.
So join me as I take a liberty or two based on the fact that shrimp, grits and every other ingredient in this exists in the Star Trek universe. If it makes you feel better, we can say that it’s on the Sisko’s menu somewhere.
Or that it’s a favorite dish of trip Tucker.
Hell, even Harry Kim.
Honestly, Shrimp and Grits is a damn southern dish that originated in the Coastal Lowcountry of the Carolinas and Georgia.
But enough rambling on my part. You want a recipe and I want to give it to you.
Mise En Place
To start with you are going to need: 3-5 strips of Bacon, one cup of Grits, four cups of Water, about a pound of Medium Shrimp, 1/3 cup of Cheddar, three tablespoons of Butter, 1/2 teaspoon Onion Powder, 1/2 teaspoon Garlic Powder, 1/2 teaspoon Smoked Paprika, 1/2 teaspoon Pepper.
Now the first thing you’re going to want to do is chop your bacon. I didn’t do that in my photos and that was a mistake because tearing hot bacon? Not fun. Rather you just want it chopped into smaller pieces rather than shrimps for the sake of cooking. After all, we’re going to cook the shrimp with the bacon in the same large sauce pan in the end.
With that taken care of, you’re going to want to take your spices and mix them in a small bowl with the shrimp. It’s not quite a Cajun seasoning, but it’s pretty close. If you want more of a kick to your meal, I would suggest adding in a half a teaspoon of Cayenne Pepper. Then you set that aside so you can begin cooking.
Starting with your grits.
Before we get much further, I need you to look at your grits. Not the actual grits, but rather the container that they came in because there are different kinds of grits and that, in turn, will affect how long it will take you to cook them.
- Quick – These are a fine ground grits processed in order to achieve a quick cook time (5-10 minutes) and allow for a longer shelf life. Odds are, if you aren’t in the South, this is what you’re going to wind up using.
- Old Fashioned – It’s also what I used for this recipe. It’s basically a variety of Quick Grits with a less fine granulation and a slightly longer cook time (10-15 minutes).
- Stone Ground – Made the way grits were in the 19th Century, they have a medium grind and aren’t as processed. For this reason the best place to store them is in the freezer. They also take longer to (30-45 minutes) and have a slight chewiness to them.
- Hominy – These have the corn hull and germ removed and are soaked in a solution to soften the outer hull. It’s essentially the same as grits. They just have a difference in processing.
- Polenta – It’s not grits. They have a flakier, coarser grind and that results in a chewier texture. Part of this is due to the type of corn used for each item. It’s a good substitute if you know how to cook it.
- Instant – No. Look, if you are cooking something quick for yourself, these are fine, I guess. They come in individual packets like instant oatmeal, but it’s not great for cooking with. They’re kind of bland. It’s always best to simply use quick grits and put in the five minutes
Now, because I happen to brown my butter for my grits to give it a flavor without having to invest much energy, I start by melting my butter over a medium-high heat and allowing it to brown. Remember, you’re looking for the butter to smell a bit nutty and to also have golden color to it. All too often the smell comes before the color change so you have to hold out until you get that nice gold look to the butter rather than the normal yellow.
After that, you’re going to want to add in your grits. I know, it may seem a bit backwards, but trust me when I say that adding water to hot butter is not the life choice you want to make. It reacts like a slightly less violent oil/water situation. And if you’ve never made that mistake, well, YouTube it so you understand why it’s a bad idea. Back to cooking, though, you’re going to then stir the grits in with the butter and lightly toast it.
Then add in your water. You are going to want to bring it to a boil over a medium-high heat, making sure to stir it at first to make sure the grits are loose. Then you’re going to lower the temperature to a simmer. Make sure to check back and stir occasionally to ensure that the grits don’t clump up on you or begin to stick to the bottom.
Once the grits have thickened, remove the pan from the heat and add in your cheese. I use cheddar and parmesan, personally, but feel free to play around with your cheeses. Find what works for you. This is your seasoning for the grits because the spies go on the shrimp. So aside from pepper to taste (not even salt in my opinion, but do you), all you need is cheese.
Now, for the shrimp part of the dish, we’re going to move fast (and honestly, I would start making this while the grits are thickening).
Our first step is to cook our chopped bacon in a large sauce pan over a medium-high heat. Honestly, we’re aiming for them to be on the browner side of done without fully cooking them. Look for an almost done quality because we are leaving it in the pan as we add in our shrimp and seasoning mix.
See, the goal is to cook the shrimp in the bacon grease. However, if your bacon isn’t the kind that greases up on its own because it’s a turkey bacon or something, just use butter. Roughly about two tablespoons because the aim is to sauté the shrimp and making sure to get the seasoning all over as you move it around the pan.
The process of sautéing isn’t a long one. Just remember that the shrimp should be an orange-pink type color and firm to poke with a utensil. It should also have a small snap when bitten into. The last thing you want is chewy shrimp.
So with the shrimp and the grits done, the last thing to do is to combine the two. For aesthetic sake, I would say that you want to add the grits first, then the shrimp, but I’m not here to dictate how you eat your food. I just hope that you enjoy it.
Shrimp & Grits
- 1 cup Grits
- 4 cups Water
- 3 tbsp Butter
- ½ cup Cheddar grated
- 1 lbs Shrimp
- 4-5 strips Bacon chopped
- ½ tsp Onion Powder
- ½ tsp Garlic Powder
- ½ tsp Smoked Paprika
- ½ tsp Pepper
- In a medium sauce pan, brown your butter over a medium-high heat.
- Add your grits and stir until they absorb the butter.
- Pour in the water and allow to come to a boil before lowering the temperature to a simmer. Make sure to stir occasionally
- Once the grits have thickened and absorbed more of the water remove from heat before stirring in the grated cheese. Allow to rest.
- Cut bacon into smaller pieces before adding to a medium skillet. Cook over a medium heat.
- While bacon cooks, combine shrimp and the spices in a small bowl. Make sure that the shrimp are fully coated before setting aside.
- Once bacon is mostly cooked, add in the shrimp and sauté them in the bacon grease. If more grease is needed, add butter.
- Once bacon and shrimp is cooked, remove from heat.
- Serve grits and shrimp together and enjoy.