Garlic & Lemon Shrimp With Grits

Theories abound on how shrimp and grits first came together. Many pin the dish’s origins to the Lowcountry, where it was once called shrimps and hominy or breakfast shrimp. (Some in that region call cooked grits hominy. But hominy is actually very different product made from corn that has been nixtimalized, or soaked in a lye-based solution to remove the hull of the kernel—think posole.)

But, like so many Southern dishes, the real story of shrimp and grits goes back much further—and embodies the painful past of slavery. Recognition of the dish’s origin and those who carried it from humble cooking methods to restaurant tables, begins to paint a more pointed picture of Southern cuisine as a whole. Most of the dishes we identify as Southern, iconic, and classic, like shrimp and grits, are the result of mixed cultures and influences. It’s not a comfortable history, but it’s one that needs to be acknowledged.

Michael Twitty, food historian and author of the James Beard award-winning The Cooking Gene has declared, “I don’t care what anyone says; shrimp and grits came from Mozambique.” The statement came with backup—he told of dishes from that country involving corn and shellfish, a combination that appeared long before anyone in Charleston was eating it for breakfast.

Regardless of the origins, Shrimp and Grits is now a favorite across the United States and this recipe is a relatively healthy twist on the classic. Simple and easy to prepare, if you love shrimp as I do, you’ll love this dish!

𝗜𝗡𝗚𝗥𝗘𝗗𝗜𝗘𝗡𝗧𝗦 - 4 Servings

1 cup instant grits (BETTER- coarse stone-ground white grits, time permitting)*
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 1/4 pounds medium shrimp, peeled and deveined, tails intact
2 large cloves garlic, minced
Pinch of cayenne pepper (optional)
Juice of 1/2 lemon, plus wedges for serving
2 tablespoons roughly chopped fresh parsley

*NOTE- for better grits, use coarse stone-ground white grits and follow the preparation instructions on the package.

𝗣𝗥𝗘𝗣𝗔𝗥𝗔𝗧𝗜𝗢𝗡 (using instant grits)

1. Bring 4 cups of water to a boil in a medium saucepan over high heat, covered. Uncover and slowly whisk in the grits, 1 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. Reduce the heat to medium low and cook, stirring occasionally, until thickened, about 5 minutes. Stir in the Parmesan and 1 tablespoon butter. Remove from the heat and season with salt and pepper. Cover to keep warm.

2. Meanwhile, season the shrimp with salt and pepper. Melt the remaining 2 tablespoons butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the shrimp, garlic and cayenne, if using, and cook, tossing, until the shrimp are pink, 3 to 4 minutes. Remove from the heat and add 2 tablespoons water, the lemon juice and parsley; stir to coat the shrimp with the sauce and season with salt and pepper.

3. Divide the grits among shallow bowls and top with the shrimp and sauce. Serve with lemon wedges.

𝗡𝗨𝗧𝗥𝗜𝗧𝗜𝗢𝗡 (per serving)

Calories 367

Total Fat 12 grams
Saturated Fat 7 grams
Cholesterol 309 milligrams
Sodium 904 milligrams
Carbohydrates 26 grams
Dietary Fiber 1 grams
Protein 34 grams
Sugar 0 grams

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