Shrimp and grits come in many different varieties. Some have corn, some have bacon or andouille, some have a creamy sauce and some have a more broth-like sauce. They’re mostly all good. So when I went to a restaurant recently and saw it on the menu as an appetizer I decided to go for it. What arrived in front of me was tragic. A crime against seafood. What was advertised as beer battered fried shrimp (non-traditional for sure) had the potential to be great. The batter was too thick and consequently I had more bread than shrimp. Speaking of the shrimp, their heads were still on. I don’t like my food to look at me. Then there were the grits. They were the consistency of Elmer’s glue. The cream and andouille sausage sauce was merely a smear across the plate. The whole thing was heartbreaking. Hence, my version of a Southern classic.
The key here is the grits. Good quality grits are essential. That means stone-ground grits. Not instant, not quick-cooking, but stone-ground. If you can’t find them in your area, try Amazon. They have everything.
For the Grits:
- 1 1/2 cup homemade or low-sodium chicken stock
- 1 1/2 cup water
- 1 cup stone ground grits (see notes)
- 1 cup white cheddar cheese, shredded
- 3 Tble butter
- 1/4 cup half-and-half
- 1 tsp Tabasco
- salt + pepper to taste
Bring water and stock to a boil over high heat. Gradually whisk in grits. Cook according to package directions on your particular brand of grits. Stir well and often. When grits are fully cooked, add cheese and butter. Stir until both cheese and butter have melted. Add half-and-half and Tabasco. Taste and adjust seasoning. Keep warm while preparing shrimp.
- Since grits are made from corn they are naturally gluten-free. However, some processing plants process them on machinery that also processes wheat products. If you are very sensitive to gluten, there are a few brands of gluten-free grits such as Bob’s Red Mill, which are available on Amazon.
It is also equally important to de-head, peel and devein your shrimp. I bought mine without the heads (thankfully!) because I don’t like my food to look at me. Deveining the shrimp is easy, once you know how. If you don’t know how, click here. Shrimp that are not deveined are gritty and sandy and will detract from the sweet, delicate flavor of the shrimp. No one wants that.
For the Shrimp:
- 1 Tble vegetable oil
- 1 cup andouille sausage, cubed (see notes)
- 1 Tble butter
- 4 garlic cloves, chopped
- 1 lb shrimp (16-20 count), peeled and deveined
- 1/4 cup homemade or low-sodium chicken stock
- 1/2 cup good beer
- 2 Tble parsley, chopped
Over medium-high heat sauté the andouille in the vegetable oil until browned. Lower heat to medium and add butter and garlic. Cook 1-2 minutes, being careful not to burn butter or garlic. Add shrimp and cook until shrimp are pink and cooked through, about 3-4 minutes. Pour stock and beer in with the andouille and shrimp and scrape up any brown bits that are stuck to the pan. Cook another 3-4 minutes, stirring often. Using tongs, remove shrimp to a plate so they don’t overcook and set aside. Reduce liquid in pan by half, about 5 minutes. Reintroduce shrimp to pan and stir making sure to fully coat shrimp in sauce. Add chopped parsley. Serve over grits.
- No andouille sausage where you live? Substitute 6 slices bacon and omit the butter.