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This low country South Carolina dish is full of flavor. If you've never cooked grits, be sure to get stone-ground grits. Instant grits will just not do for this recipe and if you ask me are not fit for consumption at any time.

Preparation Time: 1 hour    Serving Size: 6

  • 1 pound 21-30 count shrimp, peeled, deveined, shells retained
  • 6 slices bacon, chopped
  • 1/3 cup celery, minced (usually 2-3 stalks)
  • 1/2 cup green pepper, minced (usually just the sides of a larger pepper)
  • 1 cup green onions, chopped (usually 3-4 bunches)
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon fresh thyme, chopped
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • shrimp stock from retained shells
  • 1/3 cup dry white wine
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter*,  room temperature
  • 3 tablespoons all purpose flour
  • 1 cup heavy cream, heated
  • Texas Pete hot sauce, to taste
  • 3 tablespoons butter*
  • kosher salt and fresh cracked black pepper
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Prepare grits as directed below. While grits are cooking, place shrimp shells in a small pot and just cover with water. Cook on low heat, do not boil, for about 20 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool. Meanwhile, fry bacon in large heavy bottomed skillet until crisp. Remove to paper towels and drain, leaving grease in the pan. Still over medium heat, add the celery, green pepper, green onions and garlic to the skillet. Sauté 4-5 minutes. Add the fresh thyme and bay leaves and sauté another 1 minute. Stir in tomato paste and cook another 1 minute. Strain shells and add 1 cup of shrimp stock and the wine to the vegetable mixture. Raise heat to high and cook until liquid evaporates by half, about 5 minutes.

While reducing liquid, in a small bowl, use your fingers to mash 3 tablespoons butter and flour together into a paste. (This is referred to as a Beurre manié in French cooking). Lower heat to medium low and stir the Beurre manié slowly into the mixture. When totally incorporated, add heated cream and stir well. Add hot sauce to taste. Simmer slowly for 4-5 minutes.

Meanwhile, in another cast iron skillet, melt remaining 3 tablespoons butter over medium-high heat. Stir fry shrimp until they just start to turn pink, but do not cook through. Sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste. Pour shrimp mixture into other skillet with cream sauce and stir to combine. Add crumbled bacon and serve over creamy grits (below).

Creamy Grits

  • 2 cups water
  • 2 cups milk
  • 2 tablespoons butter*
  • 1 cup stone-ground grits
  • kosher salt
Combine water and milk in a large sauce pan with salt and butter. Bring to a boil and slowly stir in grits. Stir well to prevent lumps. Simmer on low for at least 30-45 minutes, stirring often and adding water as necessary, until grits are swollen and soft to the tooth.

* 8 tablespoons in total

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