There is a story behind every shrimp and grits recipe because there are so many ingredients that can be added, omitted, or swapped for a similar one. For example green onions or white onion; fresh tomato or canned tomato; cream or no cream; bacon or sausage; green pepper or jalapeno; Worcestershire or hot sauce; dark roux or just flour.
My shrimp and grits story includes the explanation for the name of my blog, Grits and Gouda. I named my food blog this because I am Southern with a pinch of gourmet…and so are my recipes, thus the name Grits (Southern) and Gouda (gourmet cheese).
This recipe is my most basic shrimp and grits recipe (except for Gouda cheese in grits). I use tomato paste with no tomatoes for a simple and less chunky sauce, no cream to highlight the bright red color of the sauce, and believe it or not, cornstarch to thicken it rather than flour or a roux.
I know, that seems like a shrimp and grits transgression, but flour would give it a matte finish rather than the high gloss finish achieved with cornstarch and I am all about SHORTCUTS and cornstarch thickens the sauce in seconds rather than a tedious roux.
Don’t get me wrong, I love, love, love a roux thickened, cream infused shrimp and grits recipe and I will make it again soon and start with cooking Conecuh sausage and stirring in cream to finish it.
Remember, this is a shortcut recipe so I also used 5 minute regular yellow grits. White grits are fine but I love the contrast of the yellow against the reddish shrimp mixture. I also pretend it’s cheesier if it’s more yellow because you know we eat with our eyes, too.
I prefer the slightly chewy texture of stone ground grits and I’m partial to Alabama made McEwen & Sons. For this recipe, I used the Dixie Lily Yellow corn grits in the picture above. I also have Bob’s Red Mill corn grits in my pantry. They both cook in about 5 minutes. My least favorite and I actually refuse to eat the “instant” grits that come in individual breakfast packets. They have been precooked and dehydrated so you can just add water. No thanks. I’d rather make mine the night before and stir in a little extra milk this next morning to loosen them up.
What’s a grit? Joe Pesci’s funny line from My Cousin Vinny is spot on because so many non-Southerners (and a few Southerners) do not know what grits are made from or how they are made. Not all grits are made from corn. This may surprise you but I recently saw rice grits on a restaurant menu. I couldn’t decide if I should be offended as a Southerner because don’t we “own” that word? It turns out rice that has been broken or fragmented in the milling process can also claim the name “grits”. But, any true Southerner knows the “true grits” are made from corn.
For a complete breakdown of the different kinds of corn grits, here’s a link from my friends over at Southern Living.
I’d love to hear from you and see pictures of your version of Shrimp and Grits or if you make my shortcut recipe of Shrimp and Gouda Grits. If you don’t have Gouda cheese, Cheddar, Parmesan, Gruyere and Asiago cheese are flavorful substitutes.
- 1 32-oz carton chicken broth (4 cups)
- 1 cup milk
- 1 cup quick-cooking yellow grits cooks in 5 minutes but not instant grits
- 4 tablespoons butter divided
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup 4 oz shredded Gouda or Parmesan cheese
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 small onion about 1 cup
- 1/2 cup chopped green bell pepper
- 1 clove garlic minced
- 1 pound large shrimp peeled and deveined with tails left on
- 1 tablespoon tomato paste
- 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
- 1/4 teaspoon hot sauce
- 2 teaspoons cornstarch
- 1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
Measure out 3 cups of the broth in a 3-quart saucepan and add the milk and salt; bring it to a boil over medium-high heat stirring often. When it comes to a boil whisk in the grits. Whisk with one hand while slowly pouring the grits in with the other. Reduce the heat to medium-low and cook, stirring often, 5 minutes or until thickened. Remove from heat and stir in 2 tablespoons of the butter, and cheese, stirring until cheese melts.
While broth mixture is coming to a boil, melt remaining 2 tablespoons of butter with the olive oil a large skillet. Add the onion, bell pepper, and garlic; cook, stirring constantly over medium-high heat, 2 minutes or until onion is tender. Add the shrimp and cook 1 minute or just until shrimp turns pink and the end curls toward the tail. Remove the shrimp with tongs and set aside to prevent overcooking.
Measure out 2 tablespoons of the remaining 1 cup of chicken broth and put in a very small bowl. Add the remaining chicken broth, tomato paste, Worcestershire sauce and hot sauce to the skillet; bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring occasionally, and cook 3 minutes. Stir in remaining 2 tablespoons of butter until it melts.
Stir together cornstarch and the 2 tablespoons of chicken broth set aside. Stir it into the sauce mixture and stir quickly over medium heat. It should thicken in about 30 seconds. Add the shrimp back to the sauce mixture.
Spoon the cheese grits onto plates or shallow bowls. If the grits have thickened up too much, stir in a little milk to loosen. Spoon the shrimp mixture over the grits and sprinkle with chopped fresh parsley.
Note: Be sure to remove the shrimp tails before eating.
Other cheese options include Cheddar, Asiago, and Gryure.
1/2 cup of whipping cream can be added with the remaining chicken broth if you prefer a creamy sauce.