Shrimp and grits. A lot of people aren’t familiar with grits, and those that are may think of them only as a breakfast item to be eaten alongside their eggs. But grits have a savory aspect to them that works well when mixed with, rather than served beside, certain ingredients and flavors.
My first taste of shrimp and grits occurred at Againn, but being from the South, it was not Cass’ first sampling. However, Againn set an unfairly high standard for the dish. The dish was terrific and they were surely versed in how to prepare grits perfectly. Still, we decided to try our hand at preparing this dish as an entree after finding a recipe in Southern Living from Bill Smith, executive chef at Crook’s Corner, a Southern food restaurant in Chapel Hill, NC, which was honored this year with a James Beard Foundation America’s Classics award.
One of the joys of this recipe was very little prep time. There are only green onions to chop, which aren’t as tear-inducing as their larger cousins. For the shrimp however, we chose to peel and de-vein fresh shrimp ourselves instead of going for the pricier pre-peeled shrimp. You can learn how to do this by checking out this how-to video. While this process takes a little practice, it’s relatively easy. Although I do recommend care with a knife when cutting down the backside of the shrimp.
The final product was not entirely as we had hoped. Cass was a little off on the measurements for the grits since we were unexpectedly in a rush. I also wondered if the chicken broth really imparted a full flavor. Part of me daydreamed of experimenting with gravy on the dish instead of the broth. Don’t discount the bacon bits sprinkled atop the grits. The bacon added a nice crunch to each bite. Cass pointed out that the dish may have been richer if we had used full fat milk and cheese. The other problem was my fault as I had overcooked the shrimp slightly, making it tough. But all in all, it was a fairly quick dish to prepare and surely one that could be perfected over time.