Shrimp and grits are a Southern comfort food at its finest. It’s a dish that can be found in a tumbledown seaside café or in some of the finest restaurants in America. It’s origins are complicated. Enslaved people in the South Carolina low country used local ingredients and seafood to make a dish that was reminiscent of their home. Eventually, it became a cheap and fast breakfast for laborers and fishermen. Today, there are as many varieties of shrimp and grits as there are chefs — but this recipe sticks to the basics.
Shrimp are one of the easiest ingredients to prepare as long as you don’t overcook them. They’re gray and translucent before cooking but, in the pan, it doesn't take long for them to turn to that familiar shade of pink. When they've completely lost their translucence and are pink and red, they are ready. Leave them on the heat much past this point and they will tend to become rubbery.
Add the chicken stock to a large pan on medium heat. Bring to a boil. Add salt and pepper to the stock. Do not add too much salt, especially if your chicken stock is already salty.
When the stock is at a full boil, whisk in the grits. Turn the heat to simmer and cook until all of the stock is absorbed into the grits, about 20 minutes.
Stir in the butter, ground mustard, both types of cheese and cream.
Let simmer while everything melts for 3-5 minutes.
Taste for seasoning and then remove from the heat. Set aside.
Right before the shrimp are ready, spoon onto a large serving platter.
In a large skillet, cook the bacon until crisp. Remove the bacon from the pan and crumble it for use at the end.
Add the bell pepper and sauté on low heat until it just gets soft, about 2-4 minutes.
Add the shrimp to the pan and sauté until they turn pink, about 2-4 minutes.
Add in the lemon juice, garlic, parsley, and green onions to the shrimp. Stir.
Pour over a platter of waiting grits.
Add the crumbled bacon on top. Serve immediately.
This is an excellent dish for brunch. To have the full Southern experience, serve with biscuits and honey, some type of bitter greens and some freshly sliced tomatoes.
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