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Shrimp and Grits

August 8, 2011

Winston Groom wrote the book Forrest Gump.  In the successful film version of the story, Bubba explains the value of shrimp to Forrest.  “Shrimp is the fruit of the sea.”

For the past thirty years our family has enjoyed an annual week of vacation at Pawleys Island. I cook the meal each evening. A menu standard is cold boiled shrimp. I buy fresh local shrimp, boil them, and serve them on ice with several choices of sauce. Family members peel shrimp and dip them until they have their fill. The remaining shrimp are served with grits the next day.

Miss Maude, a country lady from Barnwell County, was my step-grandmother. She taught me how to fix grits.  Miss Maude’s Stone-ground Grits calls for authentic South Carolina grits made from corn ground between stones the old-fashioned way. The process leaves bits and pieces of the outer germ layer. My dad used to say, “It puts a little grit in your craw.” These grits take longer to cook, but they are worth the trouble.

1 cup stone-ground grits

2 cups cool well water (tap water will do)

2 cups whole milk


Freshly ground pepper

Butter (not margarine)

Combine the water, milk, salt, pepper, and 1 tablespoon of butter in a good-sized saucepan over medium heat. Bring to a boil and then reduce heat. Slowly stir in the grits and cook slowly.

  • Stir often so that the grits do not stick to the bottom of the pan. If the grits absorb all of the water and milk, add a little more water as needed to thin out the grits until they reach the desired consistency.
  • Remove the pan from the heat and stir in more butter. Serve the grits immediately or set aside for a few minutes. Warm grits over very low heat when ready to serve.
  • Some prefer cheese grits. Simply add shredded extra sharp cheddar cheese and stir.

My shrimp and grits concoction has a little kick.

1 pound of uncooked shrimp, peeled

1 diced Andouille sausage

1 pound of bacon                 

Freshly ground pepper

Cayenne pepper                   

Olive oil


1 medium sweet onion, chopped 

Minced garlic

2 fresh green onions, minced (Use both the white and the green parts.)

1 can of Ro*Tel Original Diced Tomatoes     and Green Chilies

½ cup chicken stock                                     

Sour cream, all natural cultured

Tabasco Sauce


I find that when I follow this six-step process, everything is ready at about the same time. (1) Put all of the ingredients within reach. (2) Pour a tall glass of something cold to drink. You will be busy over a hot stove for the next 1½-2 hours. (3) Cook the bacon. (4) Start the grits. (5) Cook the shrimp. (6) Enjoy!

  • Cook the bacon – except save that scrawny, crumpled piece at the bottom of the package for later use in the recipe.
  • Season the shrimp with freshly ground black pepper, salt, and a little cayenne pepper.
  • Combine the olive oil and butter over medium heat in a large skillet.
  • Add uncooked shrimp and sear for 1½ minutes per side.  Transfer the shrimp to a plate.
  • Add more butter to the pan. Let it melt. Add that scrawny piece of bacon. Let it sizzle, releasing the flavor. It will not get crisp, but leave it in the pan.
  • Then add the Andouille sausage and cook, stirring often, until much of the fat has rendered and the Andouille is crisp, about 3 minutes. Keep the heat at medium.
  • Add the onion to the pan and sauté for 2 minutes, stirring often.
  • Add the garlic and green onions, cooking for 1 minute.
  • Add the Ro*Tel, cooking for 1 minute. Then increase the heat to high and add the stock.
  • Simmer, stirring frequently, until about half of the liquid has evaporated.
  •  Lower the heat.
  • Add sour cream to the pan, stirring to make a creamy sauce.
  • Return the shrimp to the pan, gently folding them into the liquid. Heat just until the shrimp are nice and pink. It will only take seconds. Do not overcook the shrimp.
  • Spoon the shrimp concoction over Miss Maude’s Stone-ground Grits.
  • Break off the crispest half of each piece of bacon, and sprinkle broken bits on top.
  • Serve the shrimp and grits hot.
  • Add Tabasco Sauce to taste.
  • I prefer to cook bacon on newspapers and paper towels in the microwave oven until crispy. Set the cooked bacon aside to drain.
  • Start cooking the grits, using the recipe above.

While we were at Pawleys Island last week, I was fishing in the creek that flows through the saltwater marsh.  I used shrimp for bait, of course. I did have several strikes but no fish to show for it. Something pesky kept eating my bait. I finally landed a catch – a blue crab. One of my grandsons asked the question no fisherman wants to hear when the bucket is empty.

“Have you caught anything?”

“No,” I said. “Crabs keep eating my shrimp.”

“Smart crabs,” he quipped.

I put away my fishing gear, cleaned up, and fixed supper for my family.

Like the smart blue crabs, we had shrimp.

Kirk H. Neely  
© August 2011  





Kirk H. Neely   
© August 2011

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