This Louisiana-style Shrimp and Grits recipe is one of my favorite meals. For a moment I feel like I’m back in the South.
The moment I found out I needed to go gluten-free, I ran a quick checklist in my mind (true story). Can I have wine (yes), cheese (yes), Chocodiles (no), and Shrimp and Grits (yes!) – OK, I’ll be alright.
This shrimp and grits recipe came to me courtesy of my Louisiana-raised food photographer friend James, and is the best example I’ve got of real Southern cooking. Gulf Shrimp are available year-round, but Summer is the South’s prime shrimping season. Don’t even think about making this with anything other than Gulf Shrimp and seafood stock, and it’s best if you can get your hands on some real Southern Grits, too.
Shrimp: what’s with the numbers?
When you pick up a package of frozen shrimp or spy some in the cold case, you’ll see numbers with a slash to mark the size: 16/20 or 21/25, and so on. These numbers represent the “shrimp count,” or how many shrimp that size it takes to make up one pound. When you buy 1 pound of 16/20 count shrimp, you can expect to get 16 to 20 shrimp. Larger shrimp will sometimes carry a count number that reads U/10 or similar. The “U” stands for “under” – meaning it takes less than 10 shrimp that size to make up a pound. I use 40/50 count or larger shrimp in this recipe.
Gluten-Free Real Louisiana Shrimp And Grits Recipe
- 1 cup stone ground grits
- 3 cups water
- 1 Tbsp butter
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 1/2 lb. fresh shrimp tails, 40-50 count or larger, deveined and shelled to the tip
- 2 Tbsp shrimp spice mix, recipe below
- 2 Tbsp olive oil
- 1/2 cup onion or shallot, finely diced
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1/2 cup bell pepper, finely diced
- 1/2 cup celery, finely diced
- 1/2 cup seafood stock (homemade is always best – especially if it’s spicy)
- 1 Tbsp. fresh ground black pepper
- 1 Tbsp. kosher salt
- 1/2 tsp. cayenne pepper
- 1 tsp. dried oregano
- 1 tsp. paprika
- 1 tsp. white pepper
- Zest of 1 Meyer lemon
- Bring water to a boil with a little salt and the butter. Slowly pour in the grits, stirring constantly. Cook until thick, 5-10 minutes – packages usually tell you longer (some say 15 minutes, some as much as 20-30), but grits cook quickly, and the length of time isn’t as important as the texture and thickness. Keep in mind that the grits will continue to thicken as they cool even a few degrees.
- In a large bowl, toss the shrimp in the spice mix to coat evenly; set aside. Heat the olive oil in a skillet. Sauté the onion, garlic, bell pepper and celery until the veggies are translucent. Add the shrimp, and cook 2-3 minutes on each side, until they start to turn white (don’t cook all the way through). Stir in the stock, scraping the pan for all the flavor bits. Let simmer for about 5 minutes, until the liquid has cooked down to half.
- To serve, ladle grits into bowls, top with shrimp, then spoon the remaining liquid and veggie mixture evenly over each serving.
photo by James Collier