Traditional Low-Country Shrimp and Grits

For the grits:

  • 1 cup yellow or white corn grits
  • 2 cups shrimp stock plus 2 cups water
  • 1 cup cream
  • 2 Tbsp cold-cubed butter
  • Kosher salt and fresh cracked black pepper

For the shrimp and gravy:

  • 16 large prawns, shelled and de-veined
  • 2 Tbsp butter or oil
  • 3 oz salt pork (or pancetta), cut into thin strips
  • 1/2 an onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 tsp fresh thyme, chopped
  • 1/2 cup Madeira
  • 2 cups cream
  • Kosher salt and fresh cracked black pepper
  • Chopped parsley

For the shrimp stock:

Remove shrimp shells, heads and tails from the shrimp and place them in a large pot.  Cover them with cold water.  Place over high heat and bring to a boil.  Reduce to a simmer and let cook for 15-20 minutes.  Strain and reserve liquid.

In a medium sauce pan, bring the shrimp stock and water to a simmer.  Slowly pour in the grits, whisking constantly.  Continue whisking slowly as the mixture reaches a boil.  Reduce to a simmer and cook, whisking frequently, for about 15 minutes until the mixture is thick and creamy.  Add the cream, mix and cook 3-4 minuets longer.  You can let the grits sit off the heat while you prepare the shrimp and gravy.  Just before serving, heat the grits and then add the butter, whisking constantly until it is all melted.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.

In a heavy bottomed skillet over low heat, render the salt pork until crispy.   Add the onion and cook slowly until the onion is soft and slightly caramelized.  Add the thyme and cook one minute more.  Increase the heat under the pan and add the Madeira. Reduce until the wine is a thick syrup that coats the onions and the pan.  Add the cream and mix well with a whisk or wooden spoon.  Cook the cream over medium heat until it thickens and the sauce naps the back of a wooden spoon.  Season with salt and pepper and set aside while you cook the shrimp.  To cook the shrimp, in another pan, over high heat, melt the butter or add the oil.  Pat the shrimp dry with a paper towel and season them with salt and pepper.  Add them to the pan one by one.  Cook each shrimp until you see the pink color on the edges and tail.  Flip and cook until firm, about 1 minute each side (depends on the size of the shrimp!).

To serve:

On a large serving platter, spoon the grits in a large pool.  Top with the cooked shrimp.  Cover with the gravy and sprinkle with chopped parsley.  Serve immediately with the braised kale on the side.