If you’ve never tried Shrimp and Grits you are missing out. This southern United States dish is fantastic and easy to make. While I think grits don’t sound like they’d be the most delicious thing in the world, they really are. Call them polenta, call them cornmeal, call them whatever, this is a great recipe.
4 Tbsp. unsalted butter, divided
1 tsp. kosher salt, plus more
1 cup white corn grits (not quick-cooking)
1 lb. large shrimp
6 oz. sharp white cheddar cheese
2 garlic cloves
3 oz. bacon (about 3 medium slices)
1 pint cherry tomatoes
Hot sauce (for serving)
Preheat oven to 325°. Bring 4½ cups water to a simmer in a large saucepan over medium-high heat, add 3 Tbsp. butter and 1 tsp. salt and whisk to melt butter.
Slowly sprinkle 1 cup grits into saucepan, whisking constantly. As soon as water comes back to a boil, cover pot and transfer to oven. Set timer for 20 minutes.
Do a little prep while the grits are cooking. First, using a pair of clean scissors, insert one blade into head-end of shrimp and snip along backside all the way to the tail to expose the vein. Remove vein and peel shrimp (freeze the shells and save for stock!).
Grate 6 oz. cheese on the large holes of a box grater.
Trim 6 scallions on both ends, then cut crosswise into 1″ pieces.
Smash 2 garlic cloves, peel, and finely chop.
Remove grits from oven (careful—handle will be hot!) and heat on stove over low. Uncover and whisk vigorously, scraping bottom, until mixture is smooth. Gradually add cheese, whisking constantly, until grits are smooth and creamy. Taste and season with more salt, then cover and keep warm over low heat while you prepare the shrimp.
Heat remaining 1 Tbsp. butter in a large skillet over low heat. Stack 3 oz. bacon slices, cut crosswise into ½” pieces, and add to skillet. Increase heat to medium-high and cook, stirring often with a wooden spoon, until fat is released and bacon is crisp around the edges, 5–8 minutes, add scallions and garlic to skillet and cook, stirring often, until scallions are softened and white parts are translucent and lightly browned, about 4 minutes. Increase heat to high and add 1 pint tomatoes; season with salt. Cook, tossing occasionally, until tomatoes are starting to burst, about 2 minutes, add shrimp; season with salt. Cook, tossing often, until they turn pink and the thickest part of the spine (where you snipped to remove the vein) is opaque, about 2 minutes.
Remove skillet from heat and add 2 Tbsp. water. Cut 1 lemon into wedges and squeeze about 1 Tbsp. juice over shrimp. Press on back of tomatoes with a wooden spoon to release their juices and stir to combine.
Whisk grits again to smooth out. Spoon into shallow bowls. Top with shrimp mixture, then drizzle with hot sauce. Serve with remaining lemon wedges alongside for squeezing over.