Shrimp and grits is comfort food at its best. Originating in the Lowcountry of South Carolina and Georgia, it’s now offered at restaurants all across the country. Try this combination of succulent shrimp, smoky andouille sausage and creamy cheese grits for a classic Southern inspired meal your family will love.
Southern shrimp and grits popularity has evolved since starting out as a humble breakfast dish in the Lowcountry of South Carolina and Georgia. The classic dish that originated along the coastal regions of the Southern U.S. grew in popularity after New York Times food writer and editor, Craig Claiborne, wrote an article about shrimp and grits he had while visiting Chapel Hill, North Carolina.
Today, this well known dish has spread nationwide and has earned its place as a Southern favorite along with traditional foods such as fried chicken, biscuits, cornbread, gumbo, and pecan pie. Shrimp and grits recipes can be found across the country and now chefs in fine dining establishments as well as home cooks are all creating their own special version. Some will prepare the dish with sausage as I have, others will add bacon or ham, some will use a tomato and butter sauce, some will top it with an egg if they are serving it as a breakfast or brunch item.
If you fall in love with this Southern dish, you might also want to plan a trip sometime in the future to Charleston, South Carolina which is known for its culinary scene and excellent Southern fare…especially its shrimp and grits. As a foodie who loves good southern food, Charleston is one of the places I would love to visit again. The city is well known for its wonderfully fresh seafood and I’d definitely search out a meal of shrimp and grits. Two restaurants that I would put on my list would be return visits to Husk and Pearlz Oyster Bar.
Lowcountry Shrimp, Andouille Sausage And Grits
Recipe serves 2 generously or 4 by adjusting the amount of shrimp and sausage
Pepper Cream Sauce (Optional but adds lots of flavor)
- 2 Tbsp. Tabasco green pepper sauce
- 2 Tbsp. white wine
- 1 Tbsp. minced onion
- 1 1/2 tsp. lemon juice
- 1 1/2 tsp. rice wine vinegar
- 1/4 c. cream
- 2 c. water
- 2 c. chicken stock (can substitute water)
- 2 Tbsp. butter
- 1/4 tsp. salt
- 1 c. grits (you can use white or yellow)
- 1/4 c. or more, shredded sharp white cheddar cheese
Shrimp and Andouille Sauce
- 2 Tbsp. olive oil
- 1/4 lb. smoked andouille sausage, cut into bitesize pieces
- 1 bell pepper chopped (I used a combination of red and yellow)
- 1/4 c. chopped onion
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 12 large shrimp (depending of size), peeled and deveined
- 12, more or less, cherry tomatoes or 2 – 3 plum tomatoes, chopped
- 1/4 c. chicken stock
- 1/2 tsp. Old Bay or Cajun spice seasoning
- a pinch of cayenne, adjust to personal taste
- salt and pepper
- sliced scallions for garnish, optional
Combine hot pepper sauce, wine, minced onion, lemon juice and vinegar in a saucepan. Cook over medium heat until slightly reduced and thickened, about 5 minutes then add the cream. Stir, cook an additional minute then set aside until needed. May be made the day ahead and refrigerated.
Bring water, chicken stock, butter and salt to simmer in a medium saucepan. Gradually whisk in grits. Cook the grits at a simmer, according to package directions, until they are soft and thickened, stirring frequently. Add the cheese and mix well. If grits get too thick, thin with a little water.
Meanwhile, heat olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add sausage, bell pepper, onion and garlic and sauté about about 8 minutes. Add shrimp, tomatoes, stock and seasonings and cook until shrimp are opaque and pink, about 4 to 6 minutes. Taste and adjust the seasonings if necessary, Reheat the pepper cream sauce, if using. Spoon grits into bowls, top with the shrimp mixture and drizzle a little pepper cream sauce over (if using), garnish with scallions and serve.
- The pepper cream sauce can be made 1 day in advanced, covered and refrigerated.
- I used quick grits (not instant) which take about 5 minutes to cook. If you use regular grits or substitute polenta, cook according to package directions. Stoneground grits and polenta can take up to 30 minutes.
- No matter how low you cook the grits, they tend to bubble and splatter so I partially cover with a lid.
- You can replace the chicken stock in the sauce with shrimp stock you can make if you happened to have bought shrimp with their shells still on.
- You can replace the fresh tomatoes with canned diced tomatoes that have been drained.
- The smoked andouille sausage can be replaced with linguica or chorizo sausage.
- As with any spicy dish, adjust the recipe to your own taste for heat. Your favorite hot sauce can always be served on the side for those who want extra spiciness.
Regardless of the type of shrimp and grits you’ve eaten in the past, I hope you will give this version a try. I believe it is a good representation of true “Southern food”.