Before I moved to the Charleston area, I had never tried shrimp and grits. I always thought that it sounded like a pretty cool dish since I pretty much like anything involving shrimp and I am a fan of grits. Grits are definitely a Southern thing, and it's really hard, if not impossible, to try to explain what exactly grits are to someone born and raised outside of the South as I learned when my cousin had her bachelorette party in Charleston this summer. I joined them for dinner one night at Magnolia's, and several of the girls were from up north. It was amusing trying to explain grits to them when they saw them on the menu. Magnolia's has awesome shrimp and grits, by the way, and even though I contemplating ordering something else, I couldn't resist and had to order them! I knew I would regret it otherwise.
I am really lucky to have access to such wonderful local shrimp. The shrimping industry is a huge part of life in the Low Country, but unfortunately, the downturn in the economy has really hurt the shrimpers. I try my best to buy local whenever possible. The picture is on that I took of shrimp boats on Shem Creek here in Mount Pleasant a couple of years ago.
Since first trying shrimp and grits, I've had them at I don't even know how many places around town. Sometimes, they were awesome, and sometimes, they weren't. You can get them with brown gravy or more of a tomato-y sauce with the grits. Over the years, I've also tried out quite a few recipes in search of one that I would be proud to call my own. The one complaint that I do have with making them is that to make a to die for dish, you've got to use heavy cream with the grits. Not half and half, not low fat or even whole milk...straight up, bad for ya, hip-expanding heavy cream. Trust me when I say that it is definitely worth it. And no, instant grits will NOT do!!!! You've got to use the stone ground variety.
Shrimp and Grits
For the Grits:
1 cup stone ground grits
4 cups low sodium chicken broth
6 tablespoons butter
1 garlic clove minced
3/4 cup whipping cream
Bring chicken broth, whipping cream, butter and garlic to a boil in a heavy saucepan. Gradually whisk in grits and return to a boil. Continue to whisk constantly. Reduce heat to low. Simmer uncovered until grits thicken, whisking often, for around 15 minutes.
For the shrimp:
2 pounds of large, uncooked shrimp, peeled and deveined
1/3 cup shallots, chopped
1/2 cup sweet onion, chopped
1/2 cup green pepper, chopped
2 large garlic cloves, minced.
1/2 cup white wine
1 can diced tomatoes
2 tablespoons fresh parlsey
2 tablespoons fresh chives
4 ounces of prosciutto, cut into thin strips
1-2 tablespoons Extra virgin olive oil
Season shrimp with Creole seasoning and set aside.
Heat olive oil in a heavy, large skillet over medium-high heat. Add onions and green pepper and saute for 3 minutes. Add garlic and shallots and saute for another 2 minutes. Add shrimp and saute for 2 minutes. Remove shrimp from the skillet. Add wine and boil until reduced to glaze (around 5 minutes). Add diced tomatoes (juices included), parsley, chives and prosciutto and simmer for 2 minute. Return shrimp to the skillet and simmer for another 2 minutes. Season with salt and pepper if desired.
Add grits into bowels, and top each serving with shrimp mixture. It should serve 4-6.