From my latest book, Southern Traditions, my favorite recipe for a very Decadent Shrimp, Collards and Grits.
You will find this fast becomes a simple, yet delicious way to create this famous dish.
Bacon seems to be America’s all-time favorite thing to eat in a lot of ways that’s not just for breakfast.
Surely no Southerner would exaggerate their reverence for this stuff. It’s the nectar of the Southern gods and essential oil for many fine cooks. Why I’ve even heard of divorces over bacon grease because a husband threw it out. It’s the perfect ingredient in cornbread, collards, black-eyed peas, in roux for gravies and fresh green beans.
Chef Travis Grimes of Husk in Charleston tells me he loves to cook new potatoes with bacon grease sous vide style. This slow cooking method really intensifies the flavor.
I believe every Southern woman has a deep freeze with several pounds of it on hand at all times. But Southern freezers are another story for another time.
My grandma couldn’t cook a mess of collards without it and my mom kept a tin canister by the stove just for each day’s bacon grease – never put it in the fridge. Some of today’s chefs are calling it the liquid gold of cooking. No wonder these collard greens call for 1/2 pound of hickory-smoked bacon and the shrimp and grits will need 5 nice slices.
Decadent Shrimp, Collards and Grits
1 cup stone-ground grits
3 cups water
2 teaspoons salt
2 cups half and half
2 pounds shrimp, uncooked, peeled and deveined
1 pinch cayenne
Juice of 1 lemon
1 pound andouille sausage, cut into ¼ inch slices
5 slices bacon
1 green bell pepper, chopped
1 red bell pepper, chopped
1 cup onion, chopped
1 clove garlic
¼ cup butter
¼ cup all-purpose flour
1 cup chicken broth
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1 cup sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
Here’s how to start your Decadent Shrimp, Collards and Grits. Bring water, grits and salt to a boil in a heavy saucepan with a lid. Stir in half and half and simmer until grits are thickened and tender, about 40 minutes. Add more water as needed to achieve the right consistency. Set aside.
Sprinkle shrimp with salt and pepper and lemon juice. Set aside in a bowl.
Place sausage slices in a heavy skillet over medium heat and cook until nicely browned, about 8 minutes. Set aside.
Cook bacon over medium-high heat until browned and crispy. Set aside.
Keep the bacon dripping in the pan and place cooked bacon on paper towels to cool. Once cooled, crumble.
Place bell peppers, onions, and garlic in the bacon drippings and cool until softened.
Stir shrimp and vegetables into the sausage and combine.
Melt butter in a saucepan over medium heat and stir in flour to make a smooth paste. Turn heat to low and cook gently until the mixture is medium brown in color, about 10 minutes.
Pour the butter, flour mixture into the skillet with the sausage and shrimp and vegetables. Place the skillet over medium heat and pour in chicken broth and Worcestershire sauce, cooking until the sauce thickens and the shrimp become opaque and bright pink, about 8 minutes.
Just before serving, stir the cheese into the grits until melted and grits are creamy. Serve shrimp mixture over cheese grits. Sprinkle with crumbled bacon for a unique blend of flavors making it the perfect one-dish meal.
Feel free to change the sharp cheddar cheese to fontina or any other cheese you love. Personalize the recipe to suit your own taste.
Make Decadent Shrimp Collards and Grits as rich and creamy as you like. You may use heavy whipping cream in the grits in place of the water, if desired to make it even more sensational!
For the collard greens:
2 pounds collards
3 cups apple cider vinegar
1 cup light brown sugar
1 cup red wine
4 cups water
½ pound hickory-smoked bacon, cut into pieces
Kosher salt to taste
10 whole garlic cloves
Combine all in a large pot and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and cover. Cook for three hours.