Smoky Shrimp and Grits

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  • Level: Easy
  • Total: 2 hr 5 min
  • Active: 40 min
  • Yield: 4 to 6 servings
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4 to 5 cups Shrimp Stock, recipe follows (see Cook's Note) or vegetable stock

Kosher salt

1 cup yellow stone-ground grits

1 1/2 cups grated white cheddar cheese

1/4 cup heavy cream

Freshly ground black pepper

2 scallions (green parts only), thinly sliced, for garnish

Sauteed Shrimp (including the reserved garlic oil and bacon), recipe follows

Shrimp Stock:

5 cups raw shrimp shells, heads and tails (about 2 pounds), rinsed well

1 medium yellow onion, coarsely chopped

1 small carrot, coarsely chopped

1 medium celery stalk, coarsely chopped

1 cup white wine

2 plum tomatoes, coarsely chopped

1 tablespoon chipotle in adobo sauce

1 bay leaf

10 flat-leaf parsley sprigs

1/2 teaspoon whole black peppercorns

Sauteed Shrimp:

1/2 pound thick double-smoked cut bacon, cut into lardons

20 large (21 to 24 count) shrimp, shelled and deveined

3 cloves garlic, finely chopped

2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme leaves

Salt and freshly ground black pepper


  1. Bring 4 cups of the shrimp stock and 2 teaspoons of salt to a boil in a medium saucepan over high heat. Slowly whisk in the grits and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium and continue cooking until the grits are soft and have lost their gritty texture, whisking every few minutes, 25 to 35 minutes. If the mixture becomes too thick, add the remaining stock and continue cooking until absorbed. Add the cheese and heavy cream and whisk until smooth; season with salt and pepper.
  2. Divide the grits among 4 bowls and top with the sauteed shrimp. Drizzle with some of the garlic oil and bacon (reserved from the sauteed shrimp) and sprinkle with some of the scallions.

Shrimp Stock:

Yield: About 8 cups
  1. In a large saucepan, heat the oil over high heat until almost smoking. Add the shrimp shells, heads and tails, onion, carrot and celery and cook, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes. Add the wine and cook until reduced by half, about 2 minutes. Add 10 cups of cold water, the tomatoes, chipotle, bay leaf, parsley and peppercorns. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer, skimming the surface occasionally, for 40 minutes.
  2. Strain the stock through a fine-mesh strainer lined with cheesecloth into a large bowl, pressing on the solids to extract as much liquid as possible, then discard the solids. The stock can be made 2 days in advance, tightly covered and refrigerated or frozen for up to 3 months.

Sauteed Shrimp:

Yield: 20 large shrimp
  1. Place bacon in a medium skillet over medium heat and cook until golden brown and crisp and the fat has rendered, about 8 minutes. Remove bacon with a slotted spoon to a plate lined with paper towels.
  2. Remove all but 3 tablespoons of the bacon fat from the skillet and place back on the heat. Increase the heat to high. Season the shrimp with salt and pepper, add to the skillet in a single layer, in batches, if needed, with the garlic and thyme, and cook, flipping once, until the shrimp are lightly golden brown on both sides and just cooked through, 1 to 2 minutes per side. Remove shrimp to a plate. Add the bacon to the garlic oil left in the skillet and reserve to drizzle over the finished dish.

Cook’s Note

You can purchase good-quality shrimp stock from your fishmonger or make the very easy recipe above. (You can also use a veggie stock or mixture of milk and water for the grits.) The next time you make shrimp at home, remove the shells and store in a resealable bag in the freezer until you have enough to make a stock.

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