Being that I’m from and live in the south, Shrimp & Grits are a staple. I’ve had and tried them many different ways. Creamy garlic sauce, white wine sauce with tomato and creole to name a few. There are many many varieties out there. What’s the most important component of this dish? The shrimp? Or, the grits? The bottom line is, they both have to be perfect. The shrimp should be juicy and the grits creamy. And, any proper southerner can tell you, cooking grits is a labor of love. Everyone has their own recipe. Do you cook them with water? Chicken stock? Milk? Half water, half milk? Me, I cook mine with water. About mid way through, I add cream. Constantly stirring, adding butter, more cream and more water until it’s just right. Some things just have a feeling, you know? I don’t have any old nostalgic stories about being knee-high to grandma while she’s making biscuits and cooking grits for Sunday breakfast. I’m not even opposed to using instant grits. Don’t revoke my proper southern woman’s card.
Today we’re going to use some “good” grits. Stone ground white grits to be exact. To these grits we shall add our accoutrements. Smoked Chili Bitters and Cheddar.
Like mentioned before, cooking grits is a labor of love. I’ll list the specs below but, you really have to feel your grits. Taste as you go adjusting the levels of water, cream, salt and butter.
Smokey Cheddar Grits:
3 Cups Water [Add more when needed]
1/2 Cup Cream [Add more when needed]
1 Cup Grits
1/2 Cup Sharp Cheddar Cheese [Shredded, add more to liking]
1 Teaspoon Kosher Salt [Add more to taste]
25 Dashes Hella Bitters Smoked Chili Bitters [Yes…25 Dashes]
Yields ~4 servings
SN: I can’t tell you how much butter to add. Take the approach of the old white-haired lady from Georgia who was on a network that is all about food but is no longer on food televisions’ approach.
Whisk the grits into salted boiling water and immediately reduce heat to simmer. Once the grits start to thicken, whisk in cream, cheese, butter and bitters. Cook for 20-30 minutes on medium low heat, stirring, adding water and cream as needed until grits are tender. You want your grits to be smooth and creamy. Not stuck in your pot like cement.
For our shrimp, we’re bringing back the BBQ rub from our smoked chili wings. This rub will be equally as good on a nice piece of salmon, charred to perfection atop the cheddar grits. Thank me later.
Dust the shrimp with the BBQ rub and pan sear the shrimp until just cooked through. Remember, we want them to be juicy. No rubber with the grits please!
And, for the final touch, take your favorite BBQ sauce (something spicy and sweet) about 1/4 Cup and add ~8 dashes of the smoked chili bitters and a dash of water. Heat and drizzle over your shrimp and grits. Adorn the whole thing with chives. Enjoy!