Serves 6 | start to finish: 45 minutes
Saucy creole-spiced shrimp and crispy bacon top a bowl of extra-creamy cheese grits. A brunch item like this will keep people talking all day, clear through to dinnertime. It’s a good thing that shrimp and grits work for any meal.
As with oatmeal or porridge, grits can come thick or thin. Add extra water to the grits as they cook if they become too thick for your taste, or simmer them longer to cook out the extra liquid, if you prefer a thicker version. The shrimp seasoning—and final seasoning for the dish— requires many dried herbs and spices. If time is short, substitute with a pre-made creole seasoning, such as Tony Chachere’s. for the grits:
5 cups water
1 teaspoon sea salt, plus more to taste
1 cup coarse grits
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
3 ounces cheddar cheese, grated (about 1 cup)
1 and 1/2 ounces parmesan, grated (about 1/2 cup) for the seasoning mix:
1 teaspoon sweet paprika
1 teaspoon chili powder
1 teaspoon garlic powder
3/4 teaspoon celery salt
1/2 teaspoon table salt
1/2 teaspoon mustard powder
1/2 teaspoon dried basil
1/2 teaspoon dried sage
1/4 teaspoon thyme
1/4 teaspoon oregano
1/4 teaspoon onion powder
1/4 teaspoon cayenne powder
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper for the shrimp:
1 pound shrimp, peeled and deveined, tails on
5 slices bacon, chopped into 1/2-inch pieces
5 scallions, sliced
1 tablespoon olive oil
3 ounces mushrooms, sliced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 tomato, chopped, or 1/2 cup canned diced tomato
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1/2 cup chicken broth
Hot sauce, such as Tabasco, to taste
Bring the water to boil in a medium saucepan. Add 1 teaspoon salt. Slowly pour the grits into the water, whisking vigorously. Turn the heat to medium-low and cook for 45 minutes at a slowly bubbling simmer, or until the grits are fully cooked and creamy. During cooking, place a lid partially over the pot to help contain the thick, bubbly liquid. Whisk the grits often during cooking, scraping the bottom of the pan to avoid scorching. When the grits have finished simmering, remove the pot from the burner, and stir in the butter and cheeses until completely melted. Cover and set aside until ready to serve. To reheat, whisk in a tablespoon or two of water and warm the grits over low heat.
While the grits are cooking, add all the seasoning ingredients to a small bowl. When adding the dried herbs, rub them between your fingers to get a more powdered consistency. Stir the spices, salts, and herbs until they are completely mixed.
Pat the shrimp dry and place them in a bowl. Pour 1 tablespoon of the prepared seasoning mix onto the shrimp and toss gently. Set aside.
Cook the bacon in a large skillet over medium heat for 10 minutes, or until it crisps and some of the fat has melted into the pan. With a slotted spoon remove the bacon pieces from the skillet and place them on a paper towel–lined plate. When cooled, transfer the bacon pieces to a small serving bowl and set aside.
Return the heat to medium-high and sauté the shrimp and half of the scallions for 5 minutes in the skillet with the bacon grease, stirring only once or twice. Remove the shrimp to a bowl and set aside. Add olive oil to the pan, reduce heat to medium, and sauté the mushrooms for 5 minutes. Add the garlic, tomato, lemon juice, and broth. Cook for 5 minutes, until the liquid has reduced by about half. Return the shrimp to the pan and heat for 1 minute.
To serve, scoop about 3/4 cup of the grits into a bowl or plate, and spoon some sauce and shrimp over the top. Garnish with the other half of the sliced scallions, bacon pieces, and a pinch of the remaining spice mix (if desired). Serve with hot sauce.