Cheesy Grits and Smoky Brown Butter Shrimp
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Serves: 4-6 servings
Just because spring has arrived does not remove my craving for occasional comfort food, and these cheesy grits paired up with colossal shrimp that have been sauteed in garlicy brown butter and smoked paprika do the trick. To make matters even better, it all comes together in about 20 minutes. Are you wondering about grits? Grits are made from ground corn, and can be white, yellow, or even blue. I had never tried them until our friend Van sent us a couple of packages from Geechie Boy Mill (, grown and milled on Edisto Island, South Carolina. We were hooked after the first bite, and it is no mystery to me why grits are a staple in many people’s diets. In researching shrimp and grits, I discovered that there are about as many ways to make grits, let alone shrimp and grits, as there are people who cook them. Everybody has their own spin, but I have gone a simple route. This is comfort food after all, and when I want comfort food, I want it in a hurry.
  • 1 cup yellow, white, or blue corn grits (preferably stone ground) NOTE: This recipe uses grits from Geechie Boy Mill (, milled and grown on Edisto Island, South Carolina. They are AWESOME, and available by mail order.
  • 2 cups water
  • 2 cups milk
  • 1 teaspoon salt (or to taste)
  • 1 tablespoon butter (or to taste)
  • ½ - 1 cup grated cheddar cheese (or any other favorite cheese you like. Monterey Jack is good, for example).
  • 1 to 2 pounds colossal shrimp (Size 13/15 per pound), peeled and deveined. This all depends on how many shrimp you think each person will eat, so just do the math and decide, then leave a couple for yourself since you are the cook and you will want to taste – you know - to make sure they’re just right. NOTE: Feel free to use smaller shrimp if you want – cooking time will be a little shorter)
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 ½ teaspoons smoked paprika
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 2-3 tablespoons butter
  2. Add the water, milk, salt and butter to a large saucepan and bring to a low boil.
  3. Slowly pour in the grits and stir until mixture comes to a low boil again.
  4. Reduce heat to simmer, cover the pan and continue cooking for about 20 minutes. Peek in every couple of minutes and give it a stir – stirring releases the starch and makes the grits creamier. Telling when the grits are done is kind of a matter of your own taste. If you like them super creamy with no texture, they will most likely need to cook for longer than 20 minutes. I like them with a little texture left in the larger grains. The finish is up to you, but you’ll probably want to start tasting them at the 20-minute mark.
  5. When grits are done, add more butter if you like and stir in. Now is the time to take a look. The grits should be ‘pourable’, rather than stiff. If they are too stiff, just add more water or milk and stir until you reach pourable consistency.
  6. Add the cheese and stir until melted.
  7. Serve immediately.
  9. Sprinkle the shrimp with the salt and smoked paprika and either use your hands or a couple of forks to toss the shrimp with the spice mixture. Make sure each shrimp is well coated.
  10. Heat a large skillet to medium high and add the butter. Continue heating the butter until it just begins to turn golden. Add the garlic and continue cooking another 30 seconds or so until you can smell the garlic.
  11. Immediately add the shrimp (in one layer – not a good idea to pile them on top of each other).
  12. Now is the time to keep an eye on them. The shrimp will turn a beautiful deep red and look firm on the side being cooked when they are done. This usually takes about 2-3 minutes, but every stovetop and every skillet is different, so you need to look carefully and use your own judgement.
  13. When they are cooked on one side, turn each shrimp over, immediately cover the pan, and let them finish cooking with the residual heat of the skillet. This will take about 1-2 minutes. When shrimp are done, they look opaque in the center. If they shrunk up, they went too long but what the heck – they will still be delicious. We learn by doing, so consider it a life lesson that tastes good.
  14. TO SERVE
  15. Spoon a generous portion of grits onto the plate and spoon on the shrimp. I love to drag a piece of shrimp through the cheesy grits and pop the whole works in my mouth, but chow down however works best for you. I don’t need to tell you anymore – instinct will take over. Enjoy!!
Recipe by Bird's Nest Bites at