Having grown up mostly in the south and living in Charleston, SC for 6 years and a year in the Hilton Head/Savannah area, I think I am qualified to talk about grits. And not just any grits – shrimp and grits. The creamy grits coupled with the spicy andouille and succulent shrimp with a light gravy – it doesn’t get any better.
The big secret is to cook the grits perfectly. This means NO instant grits. They just won’t do (instant really shouldn’t ever do). You have to get real grits and cook them the slow way. That doesn’t mean this is a laborious dish – not at all. The whole thing can be done in 30 minutes – the time it takes to cook the grits.
I have been perfecting my grits recipe ever since I’ve been living on my own in 2005. I’ll admit to using instant/quick cook in my dorm room -come on, we couldn’t use stoves! – but I remember cooking grits, the real way, in 2006, I think, for the first time without my parents. I would serve them plain, with maybe a little grated cheddar on top, nothing fancy, but they were so good. In the almost 10 years that I have been making them I have cooked grits sideways, upside down, and backwards. I have burned, over-cooked, and under-salted them. But the more I made them, the better they got, and I think I have finally come up with (in my opinion) the perfect grits.
When my brother and I were in our late teens, my parents (okay, probably mostly my dad since he would take control over the kitchen because he loved creating so much) made us shrimp and grits. They would buy fresh shrimp, a spicy sausage, and would have these on the table, only to be gone minutes later. They were one of my (many) favorite dishes.
When Rich, my brother, and I both lived in Charleston we would have Sunday Night dinners. We would normally go over to his place and one or both of us would cook a meal for each other and just have a “family” style dinner together. We would cook burgers, pasta, salads, and shrimp and grits. Rich makes great shrimp and grits and we made it more than a few times since we both loved it so much.
After watching/making and tasting both my dad and Rich’s version of shrimp and grits, I have taken things I like from each recipe and combined it with my own grits recipe – with a little bit of cheese mixed in. The cheesy grits are a base to soak up all of the light cream sauce with the shrimp and andouille sausage. This is a dish I make frequently since I normally have most of the ingredients in my kitchen at all times and it is a snap to come together.
Shrimp and Grits
For the grits:
1 cup grits (NOT instant)
2 1/2 cups water
1 1/4 tsp salt
2 Tbsp butter
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
1/2 cup cheddar cheese, grated
Begin by mixing the grits, water, salt, butter, and heavy cream in a saucepan and heat until boiling. Once it starts to boil, turn the heat to low and simmer, covered, for 30 minutes and stirring occasionally. During the last 5 minutes of cooking, add in the grated cheese and stir. If the grits are too thick, add a little water to thin them. Set aside.
For the shrimp and sausage:
1-2 links of andouille sausage
3 Tbsp butter
3/4 cup heavy cream
14 shrimp (6-7 shrimp per serving)
Green onions, for garnish
To begin, chop up the andouille sausage into small cubes, about 1/4″. Place in skillet over medium heat. Brown until crispy and remove sausage.
In the same pan with the drippings from the sausage, add the butter. Melt down and then add the heavy cream. Let the cream heat up and start to bubble, constantly stirring. Once the sauce has thickened, about 4-5 minutes, add the uncooked shrimp and the sausage back in. Cook until shrimp has been cooked through, being careful not to overcook. Divide the cheesy grits into individual bowls and spoon the sausage and shrimp sauce over each bowl. Garnish with green onions and serve immediately.