Growing up in Indiana, grits were something I ate exactly zero times before the age of 18.  25-ish, actually.  The first time I ever tried grits, I made the mistake of using a recipe online that called for instant grits.  That seemed convenient in theory, since it was the only type of grits my grocery store carried, but one bite was all I needed to learn that they had no texture and were suspiciously similar to cream of wheat (something I have detested since I was a child).  I backed off for a while, figuring grits were just not my thing.  However, I finally had an opportunity to try real, honest to goodness shrimp and grits in Charleston.  Those grits were fab and I realized quickly, the texture of stone ground grits made all the difference.  And then I experienced (to me) the best shrimp and grits yet while visiting Richmond.  They were extra spicy and made even more awesome with the addition of poached eggs on top.  AYKM?!

Anyway, it may have taken me twenty-some years to fully appreciate the greatness of shrimp and grits, but I’m all caught up now.  Good quality grits are key!  Ben was previously uninitiated, but one time was all he needed and he was sold.  In fact, I believe he said something like, “Why haven’t we been eating this every day?”

  • Yield about 4 servings


1½ lbs. medium-large shrimp, peeled and deveined
Juice of 1 lemon
Tabasco sauce
6 cups water
1½ tsp. salt, divided
1½ cups stone-ground grits (not instant)
6 slices bacon, chopped
1 small onion, finely diced
¼ cup finely diced green bell pepper
1 clove garlic, minced
½ cup thinly sliced scallions
2 tbsp. all-purpose flour
1 cup chicken stock
1-2 tbsp. unsalted butter
1 cup grated medium to sharp cheddar cheese


  • 01

    In a medium bowl, combine the shrimp, lemon juice and a few dashes of hot sauce.  Toss gently; set aside.

  • 02

    To make the grits, combine the water and 1 teaspoon of the salt in a large pot or Dutch oven.  Bring to a boil.  Whisk in the grits a handful at a time.  Decrease the heat to a very low simmer and cook over low heat for 35-40 minutes, stirring occasionally at first and increasing more towards the end of the cooking time.

  • 03

    While the grits are cooking, make the gravy.  Place a large skillet over medium-high heat.  Cook the bacon until browned but not crisp.  Mix in the onion, green pepper, and garlic.  Continue cooking, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are beginning to soften, about 5 minutes.  Stir in the scallions and flour and mix well.  Continue to cook, about 5 minutes more.  Stir in the chicken stock and remaining ½ teaspoon of salt.  Remove the pan from the heat.

  • 04

    When the grits are thick and creamy, stir in the butter a small bit at a time to taste.  Stir in the cheese and a dash of hot sauce.  Remove from the heat, cover, and let sit while you finish the gravy.

  • 05

    Return the gravy to medium heat.  Stir in the shrimp.  Cook, turning once, just until the shrimp are opaque throughout, about 3 minutes total.  Scoop the grits into warmed serving bowls and top with spoonfuls of the shrimp gravy.  Serve immediately.