Shrimp & Grits
Hi, I’m Ryan. Carroll’s brother. As it says on her “about” page, I DO get envious of people’s reactions when we are together meeting new people. It goes like this:
New Person: Hi, Ryan and Carroll, it’s nice to meet you. What do you two do?
Me: I teach college students who are studying to be teachers.
New Person: Oh, that’s nice.
Carroll: I’m a Chef at Disney World.
New Person: Oh My Goodness, really? That’s amazing. Is it as great to work there as I hear? Is?…Where?…What?…Yadda Yadda Yadda…
[30 Minutes Later]
New Person: So, Ryan, tell me what you do.
No worries, though. I don’t begrudge Carroll at all. In fact, I think it’s awesome that Carroll (and Sir Wes) work their Chef magic at Disney, and I learn from them all of the time! But enough about me…let’s get to the fooooood!
My History with Shrimp and Grits
Being raised in the Northeast, I never knew about shrimp and grits. I never even heard of grits until I was 15 years old, when I moved from Philly to Virginia Beach. Friends of mine pushed them on me, but I never cared for them. By the time I moved to Charleston, SC (perhaps the Southern Mecca for shrimp and grits), I had made up my mind…I just didn’t like them. Sure, I tried a spoonful of a friend’s bowl here and there, but, meh, they never struck my fancy. Quite the opposite, frankly. It wasn’t until I first experienced this recipe, made by my friend Anna, when I understood the fuss. This recipe has been a big hit with everyone: fans of the meal have said that this was the best they’ve had (even a Charleston restaurant owner!!) and folks who are anti-shrimp and grits (like myself) have said “these are the only shrimp and grits I’ve ever liked.”
My Cooking Background
An upfront disclaimer – I’m not a chef, I’m an educator. I love my job, but if I could be something else in life, I would like to be a chef. Or a movie director. Maybe a professional hockey player. Anyway, I love to cook, and know enough to both follow and stray from a recipe. I strayed a bit from the original recipe and I’ll tell you where I did so, so you can make your own choices. I might even ask you, the reader, to give me some advice.
Shrimp & Grits
Grits, White & Creamy
- 12 cups chicken broth
- 1 2lb Bag ~(5 cups) coarse stone-ground white grits (not the instant kind)
- 1 cup heavy cream
- salt and white pepper to taste
- 1 lb pack bacon cooked and crumbled
- ½ Cup melted bacon fat
- ¾ Cup flour
- 6 cups chicken broth
- 4 Tablespoons finely chopped parsley
- salt and white pepper to taste
Shrimp (marinade for the day before the meal)
- 3 pounds medium peeled and deveined shrimp
- 1 Tbsp Minced Garlic
- 1/2 Cup Olive Oil
- 1 Tbsp Onion Powder
- 1 Tbsp Mesquite Seasoning (I recommend this; it’s well worth the price and goes great on meats, grilled veggies, and especially, grilled shrimp!)
- Shrimp (the day of meal)
- 2 cups chicken broth
- 2 Tablespoons finely chopped parsley
- ~1 ½ lb raw sausage (I used 5 healthy sized Andouille links, but Italian sausage will work just fine. I’ve also had great success with Turkey Andouille.)
- First, I’m a home-brewer. Every book I’ve read on home-brewing says to drink some beer while brewing it. I generalize and transfer this approach to cooking and you’ll see it in the pictures.
- Second, there’s always some good music playing while I cook. For this meal, I was using Spotify to stream some music. In case you have Spotify, check out Cooking with Ryan.
- Since a lot of broth is called for (18), I used the Low-Sodium Better Than Bouillon Chicken Base and prepared the broth the day before the meal.
- I also cook the bacon and sausage the day before to save me a little time on party day! Below, I present the instructions in the chronological order in which I performed them, but you can change them around to suit your needs.
- Lastly, this recipe originally called for large shrimp. I used the large shrimp, but next time would instead use medium-sized shrimp as they’re better for mouth-sized bites. Plus, you get more per person. I used fresh, local shrimp with the shells on, but don’t hesitate using frozen shrimp – Alton Brown told “me” that they work just as well! I DO like getting shrimp with the shell still on, though. With the right tool, however, cleaning them is a breeze. See my video below in the next section.
Day Before the Meal
In a large bowl containing the shrimp, add seasonings, garlic and oil. In all honesty, I didn’t use measurements here; I just used what seems right, making sure not too add too much salt or too much oil. However, Carroll roughed out the measurements (see above) for you in case you need them. Place in marinating bag overnight.
Shelling & Veining Shrimp
For the bacon gravy, you will ultimately need crumbled, crispy bacon. I did it the day before the meal. Make sure to reserve the bacon fat. Most people will probably cook the bacon and then crumble it. I cut it first and then cooked it. Is there an advantage either way? I don’t know. If you cut it first, make sure you stick the bacon in the freezer to get it cold cold cold; cutting sinewy bacon is no fun, and kind of gross. How do you do it? Is your way just a preference thing, or is there some cooking strategy behind it? Either way, make sure you reserve the bacon fat for the gravy!
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Place the sausage on a baking sheet with raised sides. Bake sausage on baking sheet on top rack for 15 to 20 minutes. Sausage should be firm to touch, with clear juice seeping out. Let cool, and then cut into bite-size pieces.
Day of the Meal
Grits, White & Creamy
Bring the chicken broth to a boil in a heavy pot. Pour the grits in slowly, stirring constantly so there’s no bottom-burning. Reduce heat to low and continue to stir until they expand into a thick, heavy “mass-o-grits” (~5 min). Continue cooking grits for 20-25 minutes, stirring frequently, until all of the stock is absorbed and the grits become soft.
Add heavy cream and cook for 10 additional minutes, making sure to be stirring often. The grits will become thick(er) and heavy. Season to taste. You may need to add stock or water should the grits become too thick.
Melt, or re-melt the bacon fact in a large, heavy-bottomed pan over low heat. Introduce the flour gradually in order to make a roux. Continue cooking for ~5 minutes, stirring frequently, until nice and brown. You should smell an earthy, bacony goodness. Increase heat to medium and slowly add 2 cups of chicken broth. Whisk vigorously at first and continue a constant whisk until thick. Continue to add broth until a desirable consistency develops. (you may not need all of the remaining broth). Add the cooked bacon. Reduce heat and simmer for 15 minutes adding broth if gravy becomes too thick. Add parsley, salt and pepper to taste.
Heat the olive oil in large, heavy frying pan over medium heat. Add shrimp and sauté until pink (~2 min).
Add sausage to shrimp and continue cooking for 1 minute. Add 1 cup of broth and scrape pan’s bottom.
Carefully pour the bacon gravy onto shrimp and sausage mixture and bring to a low boil. Turn heat to low and add parsley. Use broth reserve to thin gravy mixture if it becomes too thick.
Ladle grits into a bowl, and spoon a healthy portion of gravy mixture over the grits. Self-service works great!
If anyone makes this, or a variation, lettuce know!