shrimp and creamy grits

I love grits, as you may remember from this post. Every now and then I get a craving for them, and the grits craving hit me very hard just recently. I must have seen something or read something about shrimp and grits because, for a solid week, I could not get them off my mind.

shrimp and grits

For the grits, I adapted my favorite recipe from Gourmet. Instead of whole milk and heavy cream, I lightened things up a bit with low-fat milk and half-and-half. Honestly, I’m not sure I would notice the difference. Okay, maybe I would. But, in the name of Eating Healthier, I’m sticking with my lower-fat version. Also, I don’t add cheese to my grits, but you could if cheese grits float your boat.

cooking bacon


The shrimp were local, caught in the Atlantic off the St. Augustine coast and sold by our local fish market. After shelling and deveining them, the shrimp were sauteed in rendered bacon fat and other goodness.

shrimp and grits

The cooked bacon crumbles and some sliced green onions were sprinkled on the top of the dish prior to serving. The combination of the creamy grits, the tender shrimp, and the smokiness of the bacon was just mouthwatering.

shrimp and grits

Yield: Serves 4.

Shrimp and Grits


Ingredients for the grits:

2 cups water
2 cups 1% low-fat milk
1 cup white stone-ground grits
1/4 cup half-and-half
1/4 stick unsalted butter, cut into pieces
1 teaspoon kosher salt

Ingredients for the shrimp:

4 slices bacon, cut into 1/2- inch pieces
2 tablespoons pure olive oil
3/4 pound shrimp, shelled and deveined
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
pinch of crushed red pepper
1 teaspoon fresh thyme
salt and freshly ground pepper
3 green onions, thinly sliced, for garnish


Prepare the grits:

Bring water and milk just to a simmer in a 4- to 5- quart heavy saucepan. Meanwhile, cover grits with water in a large bowl and whisk vigorously. Let the grits stand for 30 minutes then skim off any chaff that has floated to the top. Drain grits well in a fine-mesh sieve and whisk into the simmering milk mixture.

Reduce heat to low and simmer grits, partially covered, stirring often with a heatproof rubber spatula until the grits are tender and thickened to the consistency of loose oatmeal, approximately 1 1/4 hours. Stir more towards the end of cooking. If the grits thicken before they are tender and creamy, add 1/4 to 1/2 cup hot water to thin the grits.

Stir in cream, butter, and salt. Remove from heat and keep warm, covered, until ready to serve.

Prepare the shrimp:

Place bacon in a medium skillet over medium heat and cook until golden brown and crisp and the fat has rendered. Remove bacon with a slotted spoon and transfer to a paper-towel lined plate.

Remove all but 2 tablespoons of bacon fat from the skillet and place back on heat. Add olive oil and increase the heat to high. Season the shrimp with salt and pepper. Add shrimp to the pan with garlic, thyme, and crushed red pepper. Saute until golden brown on both sides and just cooked through, 1-2 minutes per side. Remove shrimp to a plate. Pour the garlic oil from the skillet through a fine-mesh strainer, and reserve the oil to drizzle over the finished dish.

Divide the grits among 4 bowls and top each with some of the shrimp. Drizzle the top with the reserved bacon-garlic oil, and sprinkle some of the cooked bacon bits and sliced green onion over the top.

The grits were adapted from this recipe in Gourmet and the shrimp recipe was adapted from Bobby Flay's recipe here.

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13 Responses to “comfort food: white bean and sausage stew”

  1. Liz the Chef — November 22, 2010 @ 9:42 pm

    I cut out Melissa’s recipe too and it is “buried” on my fridge door, as so many wonderful-sounding recipes stack up. You have inspired me to try it!

  2. Bob — November 22, 2010 @ 10:17 pm

    We love it here…made it again tonight with enough left to last for several more meals. You should think about trying your hand at a bread bowl…very easy and a great touch.

  3. Pingback: Tweets that mention comfort food: white bean and sausage stew | the merry gourmet --

  4. Gail — November 23, 2010 @ 9:28 am

    I, too, read the recipe and column and immediately added it to my recipe file. Glad it passed your kids’ test. I can’t wait to make it!

  5. Kath — November 23, 2010 @ 9:47 am

    I usually read the New York Times food articles but missed this one. Your soup looks fantastic! Sausage and beans with cornbread sounds like the perfect cold weather meal. (It snowed and is 21 degrees in Seattle. )

  6. Jen @ My Kitchen Addiction — November 23, 2010 @ 10:29 am

    I love that chicken sausage… One of my favorites! I always struggle with what to make in the days leading up to a holiday. This sounds like the perfect solution.

    • mj (merry gourmet)

      mj (merry gourmet) replied: — November 23rd, 2010 @ 9:36 pm

      Jen – They really do make the best chicken sausage. I’m always substituting it in place of regular sausage.

  7. Dan @ Casual Kitchen — November 23, 2010 @ 2:22 pm

    This is my first time visiting your site and I’m blown away by the simple and delicious elegance of this recipe! Thank you for sharing. I’m looking forward to sharing this with my readers.

    • mj (merry gourmet)

      mj (merry gourmet) replied: — November 23rd, 2010 @ 9:35 pm

      Welcome, Dan. I’m glad you’re here!

  8. Lael Hazan @educatedpalate — November 23, 2010 @ 2:40 pm

    Great post, love the soup. I have beans soaking on my counter right now!

  9. Denice Olig — December 16, 2010 @ 11:34 pm

    I made this and i love it.
    No cumin. Not really mad about it. An odd spice really, in my opinion.
    Turned out fabulous. Warm, hearty,just what I needed for these past few cold days.
    Thanks for the inspiration MJ.

    • mj (merry gourmet)

      mj (merry gourmet) replied: — December 19th, 2010 @ 9:22 am

      Denice – Yay! I’m so happy. You know, I feel the same way about cumin. I’m okay with it in small doses, but it’s not a spice I just love.

  10. Blaiser — January 7, 2011 @ 8:12 pm

    This is maybe the first New York Times recipes that I cut out and saved for a rainy day. Snowy days are more what’s cooking in the heart these days — we got our first dusting today of perhaps three inches after the 20″ deluge in the week between Christmas and New Years. (suburban Jersey)

    I had some organic pinto beans in the larder and went with those, along with sweet sausage from Trader Joe’s — but burned the hell out of the tomato paste/cumin/sausage drippings part — just wasn’t hovering when I should have been hovering. Anyway, put in the water and got it simmering and went to pick up my kid from school — library, errand, and back to the apartment — picture perfect wet snow on evergreens outside — a real Hallmark moment — and opening the door — the aroma was unbelievable. The kid (10) went bananas, but it took another few hours to get the pinto beans where we wanted them — the liquid meanwhile became a rich, rich, brown — probably due in some part to the initial burning of the spice mixture. Total cooking time 4 hours plus, but I’m telling you — walking into that smell after coming in from the snow…. priceless.

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