This is shrimp and grits: a love story.
A few weeks after we met, O and I were comfortable with each other, but not comfortable enough to stop constantly trying to impress one another. Those, those were the days.
He asked me to go to the Pixies concert at my favorite local theatre, and I casually offered to make dinner. Moments off the phone after this conversation, I began scrambling for the perfect dish, a dish that would say I’m the perfect woman.
This would be the first meal I ever made him, so greatness rested upon its shoulders. This dish had to say,
“I’m totally laid-back and down-to-earth”;
“I’m totally not obsessed with my weight; I just look like this naturally“;
“I’m the coolest person you know”; and
“I can seriously cook. I guarantee you’ll gain ten pounds within the first six months of dating me”.
Pretty average requirements for a weeknight meal, if you ask me. I decided fairly quickly that I’d pull out my favorite shrimp and grits recipe, stolen from a friend’s mother, who ended up way cooler than my friend was. I’d spent the most recent year with a boyfriend who refused to eat anything from the sea (I’m not kidding), so I hadn’t made it in quite a long time. Nonetheless, I felt confident in its titanic ability to woo my lover
In addition to the shrimp and grits, I casually whipped up a perfect batch of red velvet cupcakes [his favorite treat, his favorite recipe here], and met him at the door with a bloody mary. In a minidress. And heels. And an apron.
Have I mentioned the singular magnitude of this dinner?
This recipe is, to me, the perfect shrimp and grits. Creamy, tangy, complex flavors. Spicy, onionny, baconny. The use of the chicken stock, wine, lemon juice, and half-and-half makes this sophisticated enough for a ladies brunch. The bacon, green onions, and white cheddar-laden grits make it hefty enough to please a man. Obviously.
It started as a Robert Irvine or Bobby Flay recipe, I think but I’ve modded it beyond recognition at this point. Definitely for the better. This is one of those dishes that actually prompts a guttural reaction from O every time I make it. That’s when you know: this is a keeper.
If you hate mushrooms (freak), then just leave them out. If you hate bacon, LEAVE MY BLOG AND NEVER COME BACK. Just kidding. You don’t have to be as big of a bacon-fanatic as everyone else, but it’s really just remarkable in this dish.
This dish multiplies and divides nicely, making it perfect for a crowd.. or for you and yours.
Creamy Shrimp and Grits
1 pound shrimp, peeled and deveined
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 cloves garlic, chopped
6 slices bacon
1 cup green onions, sliced, divided
8 oz. sliced mushrooms
1/4 cup white wine (or chicken broth, if you don’t use alcohol in your cooking)
2 tablespoons fresh squeezed lemon juice
1/2 cup half-and-half
1/2 cup chicken broth
1/8 teaspoon cayenne, or more, to taste
salt and pepper
1 cup stoneground or quick grits
enough water for grits (see package directions)
2 cups sharp white cheddar cheese, shredded
3 tablespoons butter
salt and pepper
Preheat oven to 400 degrees fahrenheit.
If using stone ground grits: Start grits now. Bring water to a boil. Add salt and pepper. Add grits and cook until water is absorbed, about 20 to 25 minutes. Meanwhile, make the shrimp and sauce. Remove from heat and stir in butter and cheese.
If using quick grits: Put off making the grits until a bit later.
Rinse shrimp and pat dry. Toss with one tablespoon olive oil in a bowl and then spread evenly on a baking sheet. Roast for about 5 minutes, being careful not to overcook!
Fry the bacon in a large skillet until browned; remove with a slotted spoon when cooked properly. Turn heat to medium-high and add sliced mushrooms. Fry in the bacon grease for about four minutes, or until cooked well, but not overcooked. Remove with a slotted spoon.
If using quick grits, start now. Get to the simmering stage and move on. Don’t forget about them! When they’re finished, stir in butter and shredded cheese.
Add the chopped garlic and sauté for one minute. Add 1/2 cup of the green onions and sauté very briefly. Add lemon juice, wine, chicken broth, and half-and-half. Bring to a boil then reduce heat to a low simmer. Season with salt, pepper, and cayenne.
Add shrimp, mushrooms, and other 1/2 cup of green onions. Heat through.
Spoon grits into individual bowls. Ladle shrimp and sauce over. Serve immediately.