You are missing out if you have never had Shrimp and Grits in New Orleans. Perfectly seasoned shrimp are paired with creamy, cheesy grits. You can recreate this classic southern dish at home. One bite and I know you will find this one of your new favorite shrimp recipes.
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Why You Should Try Cajun Shrimp and Grits
Cajun shrimp and grits is a dish that packs a lot of flavors. The spicy and savory seasonings used in the cajun spices, along with the creamy, and buttery grits, make for a delightful bouquet of flavors you will want again and again.
Why You Should Try This Recipe
This recipe was taught to me by a chef in New Orleans. This is an authentic recipe, that is bursting with full of flavor. By cooking the whole shrimp in the sauce you get so much more of the shrimp flavor than you do if you use only the shrimp tails.
This recipe also does not overcook the shrimp, since you cook them only for as long as you need to. After the shrimp are cooked, they are removed from the sauce, and we allow the sauce to reduce magnifying the flavor of the sauce without overcooking the shrimp.
This recipe also uses Romano cheese instead of Cheddar cheese. The romano cheese really comes through the savory sauce and gives the grits the ability to stand up to a well-seasoned broth the shrimp are served in.
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. You can read more about the history of shrimp and grits.
If you don’t live in the South, you may not have magically had this corn-based cereal. What makes these grits unique? 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 like milk.
The most famous barbecue shrimp is prepared at Pascale’s Manale. Barbecue shrimp are cooked in a Cajun-spiced garlic and beer marinade.
If you are ever in New Orleans, I highly recommend visiting this old-school restaurant. White tablecloths, attentive service, and spectacular food are ways to spend an evening.
Barbecue shrimp 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. See my Bubba Gump barbecue shrimp recipe.
Here’s a list of what you need for this shrimp and grits recipe:
- Stone-ground grits
- Whole milk
- Shredded Romano Cheese
- Large shrimp with heads and shells
- Worcestershire sauce
- Light-tasting beer
- Cajun seasoning
- Crab, shrimp & crawfish boil seasoning
- Thyme leaves
- Rosemary leaves
How to Make Shrimp and Grits New Orleans Style
- Place grits, water, and milk in a saucepan. Bring to a boil.
- Reduce heat to low and simmer for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Add cheese to grits just before serving. Stir until the cheese is melted.
- Rinse the shrimp in cold water. Pinch off heads and place heads in a large skillet with butter.
- Sauté shrimp heads until the fat in the heads melts, and the oil turns red. Remove and discard heads.
- Peel and devein the shrimp.
- Add butter and garlic over medium heat in a large skillet until the butter is melted and the garlic becomes fragrant.
- Add Worcestershire sauce, crab boil, Cajun spices, and beer. Stir to combine.
- When the sauce begins to bubble, add the shrimp.
- Flip the shrimp when it begins to turn pink and shrink. Cook for one minute and remove the shrimp.
- Continue to cook the sauce until it reduces by a third, then remove it from the heat.
- Add butter and stir until the butter melts into the sauce.
- Divide grits into four bowls. Spoon the shrimp and sauce equally over the grits in each bowl.
- Garnish with chopped green onions or parsley if desired.
- Store fresh or thawed shrimp in a colander filled with ice and set over a bowl.
- Shrimp should only be rinsed and dried just before cooking.
- For the best flavor, look for shrimp that is local or wild-caught.
More New Orleans Recipes
- Shrimp Remoulade
- Shrimp Alexander
- Bubba Gump Shrimp New Orleans
- Cheddar’s New Orleans Pasta
- Oyster Soup
- Crawfish Etouffee
- Cajun BBQ
- New Orleans Salad Dressing
Love Southern Cooking? Try these recipes!
- Louisiana Red Beans and Rice
- How to Cook Cajun Rice
- Jalapeno Cheddar Cornbread Jiffy
- Chick Fil A Chicken Nugget Recipe
- How to Make Mush
Be sure to check out more of my delicious main dishes and restaurant seafood recipes.
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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 tablespoon cajun seasoning
- 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.
- 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