Southern Shrimp and Grits with Honey Roasted Peanuts

Southern Shrimp and Grits are down-home comfort food. Cheesy grits with colorful shrimp gravy and topped with honey roasted peanuts.

March 16, 2021

Southern Shrimp and Grits with Honey Roasted Peanuts in a bowl

Shrimp and Grits History

The are many places, recipe names, and stories in the history of shrimp and grits. Certainly, shrimp and grits are down-home Southern comfort, food but it arrives with its current claim through humble beginnings. Just like the dish, the history is powerful, colorful, and has many variations.

  • The corn and shellfish combination came to the New World from Mozambique during slave trading.
  • Corn grits are a widely used staple in the South due to the influences of Native American culture on the Southern diet.
  • Many plantation kitchens provided corn grit allowances to the slaves who combined it with seafood; The descendants continued the dish and often served it in the morning, calling it “breakfast shrimp.”
  • Laborers on the Southern states’ fishing docks are known to bring this staple meal on long fishing journeys.
  • The first known recipe publication was in the Louisiana Review column in 1891.
  • A Charleston SC cookbook, compiled in 1930, called it “shrimps and hominy.” The author credited his 78-year-old African American butler for the recipe.
  • Chapel Hill, NC’s restaurant, Cook’s Corner, claims to be the first chef-run restaurant to place it on the menu.
  • Famous in Chapel Hill, New Orleans, Savannah, and Charleston, shrimp and grits are now on many restaurant menus across the United States.

For more information about the history, check out this article in The Local Palatea Southern food culture magazine written by the magazine’s editor-in-chief, Erin Byers Murray. She is an award-winning writer and author of Grits: A Cultural and Culinary Journey Through the South.

Southern Shrimp and Grits with Honey Roasted Peanuts in a bowl

Cheesy Shrimp and Grits – Holiday Meal or Weeknight Dinner

This Southern staple somehow made it to my Midwestern kitchen. I started making it as a side dish to ham for special occasions. For nearly a decade, my employer gave me a generous gift certificate to the Honey Baked Ham. I would get a ham for Christmas Eve and Easter Sunday, and shrimp and grits became the family favorite side dish for both of these holiday meals. Additionally, the dish is a great weekday meal since it is quick. Try it for a Friday night Lenten meal or anytime you are in the mood for southern comfort food.

Use White or Yellow Corn Grits

I use white corn grits for Christmas and yellow corn grits (aka polenta) for Easter. If using traditional white corn grits, use white cheddar cheese to keep the color. Using yellow grits is not customary and probably illegal in some Southern states, but I think the color works great for Spring. It is also convenient since I always have polenta and yellow cheddar on hand for other recipes.

What is the difference between white and yellow corn grits?

According to Bob’s Red Mill, grits and polenta are the same. They consist of dried, milled corn with most of the germ removed and grind to produce a coarse grit. White corn grits are from white corn, and yellow corn grits (polenta) are from yellow corn. Note: Do not use cornmeal, and instant grits do not provide the same flavor.  

The bottom line

In summary, Shrimp and Grits have a rich history and variety of recipes. The mild taste of the corn grits is an excellent base for a colorful and tasty gravy. Experiment with different vegetables and spice levels. You don’t have to go to a restaurant to enjoy it. Give tribute to the colorful history of Shrimp and Grits and make it at your home.

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Southern Shrimp and Grits with Honey Roasted Peanuts in a bowl

Southern Shrimp and Grits with Honey Roasted Peanuts


Description

Shrimp and grits are down-home Southern comfort food. Cheesy grits with colorful shrimp gravy and topped with honey roasted peanuts. Easy recipe and good for the soul.


Ingredients

Units Scale

 

Grits

  • 3 1/2 cups water
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup white corn grits or 1 cup yellow corn grits (aka polenta); Quick 5-Minute NOT 1 Minute instant grits*
  • 6oz cheddar cheese, grated – white cheddar cheese if using white grits**
  • 4 green onions, trimmed and thinly sliced; half used in grits and half used as a garnish
  • 1 Tablespoons butter, preferably salt-free
  • 1/8 teaspoon pepper

Shrimp Sauce

  • 1 pound raw (uncooked) shrimp, medium size (approximately 40 ) peeled and deveined*** see note below on frozen uncooked shrimp
  • 2 teaspoons Cajun seasoning
  • 1 Tablespoon olive oil for cooking shrimp
  • 1 Tablespoon olive oil for cooking mushrooms
  • 8 ounces white mushrooms, quartered
  • 6 ounces roasted red peppers, chopped
  • 1 Tablespoon butter
  • 11oz vegetable juice (V-8 Juice); preferably low sodium or tomato juice
  • 4 Tablespoons honey roasted peanuts, coarsely chopped

Instructions

  1. Cook Grits. In a medium saucepan, bring water to a boil. Add salt and slowly whisk in grits. Reduce heat to low and constantly whisk, making sure grits are smooth. Stir for 5 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in cheese and half the green onion, butter, and pepper. Cover and set aside. If grits get too thick, add hot water 1 Tablespoon at a time.
  2. Cook Shrimp. If using frozen shrimp, follow directions to thaw. Pat shrimp dry with paper towels and season with 1 teaspoon (half) of the Cajun seasoning. Place a medium skillet over high heat and add 1 Tablespoon of olive oil. Add half the shrimp to the pan and sear on one side for 2 – 3 minutes; flip and cook an additional 1 – 2 minutes. Set aside by placing on a plate or serving dish. Repeat with remaining shrimp. Note: Shrimp is done when color is uniform white with some pink and red accents and no translucent gray remains.
  3. Add Vegetables. In the same skillet (do not clean), add 1 Tablespoon olive oil over medium-high heat. Add mushrooms to the hot pan and occasionally stir until browned about 5 – 6 minutes. Add vegetable juice, red peppers, and the remaining Cajun seasoning (to taste) and cook for 1 – 2 minutes.
  4. Add Shrimp. Stir in remaining butter and shrimp, and heat ingredients for a minute.
  5. Plate. Scoop 1/4 grits into a pasta bowl and top with 1/4 the shrimp gravy.
  6. Garnish with green onion and peanuts.

Notes

This recipe is inspired by Home Chef, a wonderful meal kit delivery service.

*I do not recommend using instant grits that cook in 1 minute. Do not substitute cornmeal or cornflour for the grits.

** If using white grits, it’s nice to use a white cheddar

***Frozen raw (uncooked) shrimp is a great option if you cannot get fresh. Look for wild-caught American Shrimp. It will come from the coastal regions from which this recipe began – NC, SC, GA, FL, LA. Some packages will request thawing overnight and some will have quick thaw directions by placing shrimp in a colander and running cold water. If you cannot find an affordable price for wild-caught American shrimp, look for sustainable farm-raised.

Equipment needed: medium saucepan for grits; medium skillet for shrimp sauce.

  • Prep Time: 10
  • Cook Time: 20
  • Category: Fish & Seafood
  • Method: Stovetop
  • Cuisine: Southern American

Keywords: cheesy corn grits, polenta, easy weeknight dinner, Easter dinner side dish, holiday dinner side dish

Let me know your thoughts on this post!

2 Responses

  1. Need to try this recipe. I’m sure it will remind me of the delicious shrimp and grits that we had in FL.

  2. Ok people Karen herself made this for our family tonight. All I can say is YUMMY!!! Give it a try it does not disappoint😋

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