About a year or so ago I went to Savannah, GA with some girlfriends, and on top of Savannah being gorgeous there is SO MUCH good food there. Prior to that visit I had never eaten shrimp and grits because a) I thought I didn’t like grits and b) I only enjoy shrimp if it’s prepared right and seasoned well (which it’s often not). But something about being in the South and seeing it on every menu got me curious. And then got me hooked. The grits were cheesy, thick perfection topped with slightly spicy shrimp and pan sauce. I could not get enough. And since then I had’t had any that lived up to what I remembered, only a sad, soupy, bland versions that were less than dreamy. So I did what I had to do and made my own! And it was easy.. too easy, because they are so freaking good it seems like you should have to slave over the stove for something so delicious.
Luckily for us, a handful of easy to find ingredients and a little bit of time and you’re on the way. The timing on this meal is pretty easy, I cooked the bacon while I cleaned and seasoned the shrimp; then I started the grits and was able to shred the cheese and chop the garlic and green onion before starting the shrimp. And just about the time the shrimp was ready to go back in the pan, the grits were done and ready for the cheese to be added, a few stirs later and you’re ready! I love it when a good plan (aka amazing meal) comes together!
Cajun Shrimp & Cheddar Grits (Print Me)
2 cups chicken stock
2 Tablespoons butter
1/2 cup grits (I prefer stone ground, you can use quick grits though)
1 cup sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
1 pound shrimp, peeled and deveined
4 slices thick cut bacon
1 cup chicken stock
Juice from 1 lemon (~2 Tbsp)
1/4 cup thinly sliced scallions
2 cloves garlic, minced
Arrange bacon on a cooling rack and set the rack on a rimmed sheet pan. Place the bacon in a cold oven, then turn the oven on to 400ºF. Cook the bacon for about 15 mins on each side, or until crispy. Alternately, you can pan fry the bacon, I find the oven option convenient since it gives me time to clean and season the shrimp without needing tended to. Chop the cooked bacon into bite-sized pieces and reserve the bacon grease.
In a medium saucepan bring chicken stock and butter to a boil, add grits then cover and reduce to simmer. Cook according to package directions, for stone ground grits approximately 30 mins, for quick grits about 7, until they are thickening and tender. Remove from heat and stir in cheese (grits will continue to thicken as you let them cool slightly).
Meanwhile, add 1-2 tablespoons of the bacon grease to a large skillet over medium high heat. Season the shrimp with plenty of cajun seasoning and salt to taste. Add the shrimp to the skillet and cook until the shrimp just turn pink, about 1 minute per side. Remove shrimp from pan momentarily and set aside. Deglaze the hot pan with chicken stock, scraping up brown bits from bottom of pan; allow liquid to reduce slightly then lower the heat to medium. Add back in shrimp along with bacon, scallions, garlic, and lemon juice. Cook for another 1-2 minutes until the garlic and scallions are softened and the shrimp are done. Sever atop grits with some of the pan sauce. Enjoy!
Slightly adapted from: Kevin & Amanda