If you have never had Shrimp and Grits in New Orleans you are missing out. You can recreate this dish at home now.
If you have never had shrimp and grits in New Orleans, you are missing out – it’s one of those dishes that is simply perfect. Every time I go to New Orleans, I seek it out. Next to beignets and po boys, I can’t think of a food that defines New Orleans for me as much as shrimp and grits do.
The History of Shrimp and Grits
Grits are such a staple dish for southerners that the south is known as the “Grits Belt” and Georgia named grits as its state food. In fact, Georgia holds an annual Shrimp & Grits Festival every year.
- Native Americans – Grits originated with the way the Native American Muskogee tribe prepared Indian corn. The Muskogee ground their corn in a stone mill which gave it its “gritty” texture.
- African Americans – It’s believed that when West African Slaves received food allowances that included grits, they would catch shrimp and other fish and cook them with the grits.
- Crook’s Corner – in 1982, the chef at Crook’s Corner, a restaurant in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, forever changed the lowly status of shrimp and grits. The grits were combined with Cheddar and parmesan cheese and topped off with jumbo shrimp, mushrooms, bacon, and a few other ingredients. In 1985, Craig Claiborne of The New York Times wrote it up, and the once humble dish started gaining widespread popularity. To read more about the history of shrimp and grits, click here.
If you don’t live in the South you may not have had this corn-based cereal in a magical way. What makes these grits amazing? By using half water and half whole milk the grits are creamy and flavorful. When you prepare them with just water, the corn doesn’t open up as it does with milk.
The Barbecue Shrimp
The most famous barbecue shrimp is prepared at Pascale’s Manale. The barbecue shrimp are cooked in a Cajun-spiced garlic and beer marinade. If you are ever in New Orleans, I would highly recommend going to this old school restaurant. White table clothes, attentive service, and spectacular food is the way to spend an evening.
Barbecue shrimp is shrimp that is cooked in a cajun-spiced, garlic, and beer marinade, typically the cooking sauce is thin, but this one is different. This version creates a thick and savory sauce to enjoy with the grits.
Want More Recipes From New Orleans? Be sure to try these copykat New-Orleans-inspired recipes.
Shrimp Remoulade From Galatoire’s Restaurant
Cheddar’s New Orleans Pasta
Brennan’s Oyster Soup
The Commander’s Palace Salad Dressing
Love Southern Cooking? Be sure to try these Southern-inspired recipes
New Orleans Style Shrimp and Grits
- 1 cup stone-ground grits
- 2 cups water
- 2 cups whole milk
- 1 cup shredded Romano Cheese
- 1 tablespoon butter for sauteing shrimp heads
- 2 pounds large shrimp heads on are preferred
- 1/4 pound butter
- 1 tablespoon minced garlic
- 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
- 1/2 cup beer Budweiser, Abita, or other light tasting beer
- 1 tablespoons cajun seasoning like Slap Ya Mamma
- 1 teaspoon crab, shrimp & crawfish boil
- 1/2 teaspoon thyme leaves
- 1/8 teaspoon oregano
- 1/2 teaspoon rosemary leaves crushed
- 5 tablespoons butter for finishing dish
- Add 1 cup of grits to 2 cups of water and 2 cups of milk. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally to prevent sticking.
- Add cheese just before serving, and stir through until the cheese has just melted.
- Rinse shrimp in cold water. Pinch off heads and place heads in a large skillet with 2 tablespoons of butter. Sauté shrimp heads until the fat in the heads melts and the oil turns red in color. Remove heads.
- While the shrimp heads are sauteing, peel and devein the shrimp.
- In a large skillet add the 1/4 pound of butter and garlic over medium heat until the garlic becomes fragrant. Add Worcestershire Sauce, crab boil, and Cajun spices. Add the beer and stir.
- When the sauce begins to bubble, add the shrimp. Flip the shrimp when it begins to turn pink and shrink. Cook for one minute more and remove shrimp.
- Continue to cook the sauce until it reduces by 1/3, then remove from the stove. Add the 5 tablespoons of butter and stir until the butter melts into the sauce. The sauce should be thick now.
- Divide grits into 4 equal portions in 4 bowls. Add shrimp equally to each portion. Add sauce equally to each bowl.
Recipe Tips for the Cook
- Store fresh or thawed shrimp in a colander that is filled with ice and set over a bowl to provide for drainage.
- Shrimp should only be rinsed and dried just before cooking
- For the best flavor look for shrimp that is local or wild-caught for best flavor