One of my favorite destinations is Charleston, SC, partly because of the charm and hospitality of the city and people, but also because of their cuisine.  One of my favorites is Shrimp and Grits.  I love the creaminess of the grits paired with the spicy shrimp and gravy.  I’m not sure if they call it sauce or gravy, either way it sure is good.  I rarely come across grits here in the Midwest other than the instant grits packets you find in the local grocery stores but recently I was in Trader Joe’s and came across a package of stone ground grits.  I picked up a package envisioning what I would do and came up with this. . .

I’m getting started by making a spice blend for the shrimp.  I combined creole seasoning, paprika, salt and pepper.

I took about a pound of shrimp laid out on a paper towel and sprinkled the seasoning over top.  I set these in the fridge until ready to go.  I’ll season the other side when they go on the griddle pan.

I’m going to fry 6 slices of bacon which will go into the gravy.  Save the bacon grease, you’ll need it later.

Cook until nice and crisp on both sides.  I ran a knife through to make 1/2 inch pieces.

My grits are going to take 25 minutes to cook so I’m going to get them started while I work on the shrimp and gravy.  If you have quick cooking grits or instant you may want to start them later.

While the grits are cooking take a pat of butter and spread around the griddle pan or skillet.  Heat to medium high heat.

Place the shrimp seasoned side down, then sprinkle remaining seasoning mix over shrimp.  I took a wedge of lemon to spritz over the shrimp.  Shrimp will start turning pink on the underside in about a minute or two.

Turn the shrimp, spritz with lemon and cook an additional minute.  Transfer to a warming plate when done.

Take the leftover bacon grease and add 2 tablespoons butter to the pan.  When melted add 1 clove minced garlic and stir the pan until the garlic becomes fragrant about 1 minute.

Stir in 3 tablespoons flour and stir until combined.  This will be your roux.

Time for some seasoning.  I added 1 teaspoon paprika and 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper.  See how it’s starting to bubble and you can scape to see the bottom of the pan, that’s when it’s time to add some liquid.

Add 1 cup of chicken stock and stir while it thickens.

Time to add the bacon pieces and 1/2 cup green onion.

For a little added creaminess, add 1/2 cup half and half.

Umm, that looks good.  Take a taste and season with salt and pepper and add a few dashes of Tabasco hot sauce if you want a little extra spice.

The grits have cooked through, time to add some cheese.  I added 2 cups of sharp white cheddar cheese, plus a few splashes of Tabasco hot sauce.  Salt and pepper to taste.

Ladle your grits into a bowl and add some shrimp and gravy over top.  Sprinkle some green onion for garnish.

Shrimp and Grits

1 pound large Shrimp, peeled and deveined
2 teaspoons Cajun Seasoning (I used Tony Chachere’s Original Creole Seasoning blend)
1 teaspoon Paprika
1/2 teaspoon Salt
1/8 teaspoon Black Pepper
1/2 Lemon
1 tablespoon Butter

1 cup Stone Ground Grits, (or quick cooking, or instant)
2 cups Sharp White Cheddar Cheese, grated
Tabasco Hot Sauce, to taste
Salt and Pepper, to taste

6 slices Bacon, cooked and sliced into 1/2 inch pieces
2 tablespoon Butter
1 clove garlic, minced
1 cup sliced Green Onion, divided
3 tablespoons Flour
1 teaspoon Paprika
1 teaspoon Cayenne Pepper
1 cup Chicken Stock
1/2 cup Half and Half
Tabasco Hot Sauce, to taste
Salt and Pepper, to taste

Cook grits according to package directions.  As the grits are finishing, add in cheese to melt.  Add salt, pepper and Tabasco hot sauce to taste.

To prepare shrimp, combine spices and sprinkle over shrimp.  Take 1 tablespoon butter and melt over a hot griddle or skillet.  Place shrimp seasoned side down on griddle or skillet.  Season top side of shrimp and spritz with lemon juice.  Shrimp will start to turn pink on the bottom side in about a minute or two.  Turn shrimp and cook an additional minute.  Spritz with lemon juice and transfer to a warming plate.

Cook bacon until crisp and browned on both sides.  Remove to a plate lined with a paper towel and cut into 1/2 inch pieces. Set aside.  Save the bacon drippings and add 2 tablespoons butter to the pan.  Melt butter and add minced garlic.  Stir 1 minute or until garlic becomes soft and fragrant.  Stir in flour to make a roux.  Add spices of paprika and cayenne pepper, stir and scrape the bottom of the skillet until roux is bubbly.  Pour in chicken stock and stir while gravy thickens.  Add bacon pieces and 1/2 cup of green onion slices.  Stir in 1/2 cup half and half and continue cooking until you have the desired consistency of your gravy.  Season with salt, pepper and Tabasco hot sauce to taste.

Ladle grits into a bowl, top with shrimp and gravy.  Sprinkle remaining green onion over top if desired.

Makes 4 servings.