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These blackened shrimp and grits are made with cheesy stone-ground grits, shrimp cooked with homemade blackening seasoning, and an easy butter lemon pan sauce.
I really love shrimp and grits.
Back in January, the hubs and I had some incredible shrimp and grits at Honeywood in Lexington, Kentucky, and I’ve been craving them ever since.
Since we eat almost all our meals at home right now, without many take-out options, I’ve been trying to recreate at least one restaurant-style meal a week.
We’ve been enjoying deconstructed sushi bowls, grouper Reubens, vegetable tikka masala, shrimp fra diavolo, and honey bourbon salmon. But now I wanted shrimp and grits.
I already make shrimp and grits for an occasional treat. When we had parties, I even liked to serve shrimp and grits as an appetizer, but this time I wanted to try changing the flavors up a little.
This version of shrimp and grits uses a homemade blackening seasoning, a variation of the spice mixture I use with my blackened rockfish tacos.
The shrimp is served with cheesy stone-ground grits, and is a rich, decadent main dish.
What Size Shrimp Should I Use?
Use whatever size you prefer! Just make sure you’re serving about four ounces of shrimp per person.
The shrimp in the photos is jumbo white Gulf shrimp.
Learn more about sourcing shrimp by reading these articles: Wild Shrimp vs Farmed and How to Buy Shrimp.
Can I Use Store-Bought Blackening Seasoning?
If you do, know that each brand’s spice mixture will taste slightly different because the recipes vary. Make sure you like the flavor of seasoning you’re using!
For a quick homemade blackening seasoning, I use smoked paprika, dried oregano, garlic powder, and cayenne.
Shrimp and Grits Without Bacon or Andouille Sausage?
We aren’t big meat eaters, so I prefer my shrimp and grits without extra meat. The blackening seasoning (in my opinion) makes up for the flavors you’d get from the meat.
However, if you prefer to add extra meats, go right ahead!
What Are Stone-Ground Grits?
Stone-ground grits are ground in a stone mill. Compared to instant grits, they’re chewier with more texture and a stronger corn flavor.
I usually buy Trader Joe’s stone-ground white grits.
Can I Use Instant Grits?
Know that they won’t taste quite as fabulous, but it might be worth it if you’re wanting an extra-quick meal.
If you choose to use instant grits (or if that’s all you can find), you’ll need to use the cooking directions on the packaging, not the directions in this recipe.
If you want stone-ground grits but don’t want to stand over the stove to cook them, use these slow-cooker grits.
How to Cook Stone-Ground Grits
Start by bringing water, butter and salt to a boil in a small saucepan.
Slowly add the grits, bring the water back to a boil, and then cover the pot and lower the heat.
Cook the grits over low heat for about 15 to 20 minutes, or until the grits begin to thicken. You’ll want to stir the grits occasionally to make sure they’re not sticking to the saucepan.
Next, stir in some milk.
Continue to simmer the grits over low heat, stirring more often at this point.
When the grits thicken, turn off the heat. I generally stop cooking them when they’re still a little thinner than I want, because they’ll thicken off-heat while I cook the shrimp.
Next, add the cheese.
Stir them into the grits until the cheese melts.
Making Blackened Shrimp
Toss your shrimp in the blackening seasoning and a little lemon juice.
Cook the shrimp in a hot pan for a minute or two per side until they’re opaque, and then remove the shrimp from the pan. I like to use this Lodge 12″ carbon steel skillet.
Make the Pan Sauce
Finally, remove the shrimp from the pan and add a little butter.
When the butter melts, add some lemon juice.
Stir the butter, lemon juice, and all the seasoning left over from the shrimp. Turn off the heat.
Scoop the grits into two bowls, top the grits with shrimp, and drizzle everything with the pan sauce.
Serve the blackened shrimp and grits along with these honey balsamic brussels sprouts and a lavender bourbon sour.
Blackened Shrimp and Grits
- 1 ½ cups water
- 1 tablespoon butter
- ¼ teaspoon sea salt, plus more to taste if desired
- ½ cup stone-ground grits
- ½ cup milk
- 2 ounces white cheddar cheese, freshly grated Or sub Gouda
- pinch black pepper (optional)
- 8 ounces shrimp (4oz per person) Shells removed + shrimp deveined. Tails on or off, as desired.
- ¼ teaspoon smoked paprika
- ¼ teaspoon dried oregano
- ¼ teaspoon garlic powder
- ¼ teaspoon ground cayenne
- ¼ teaspoon sea salt
- 2 lemons, juiced (divided)
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 tablespoon butter
- Tip: These directions are for stone-ground grits only and will not work for Instant Grits. If using a different type of grits, follow the package cooking directions.Add water, butter, and salt to a small saucepan. Bring to a boil over high heat. Slowly stir the grits into the boiling water and return the water to a boil.Cover the pan and lower heat to low. Cook covered for 15 – 20 minutes or until the grits begin to thicken. Stir often, especially towards the end.
- Add the milk to the grits and cook uncovered, stirring often (almost constantly) for about 10 more minutes or until the grits are thickening.Control the boil: If your grits keep boiling up (and start to overflow), lower the heat. (I often switch back and forth between low and warm during this stage.)Thickness: The grits will continue to thicken as they rest off-heat, so it's okay if they're slightly thinner than you want.
- Add the cheese to the grits and stir to combine. Taste the grits and add pepper and/or more salt if desired.Cover the saucepan and set aside, off-heat.
- Toss shrimp in paprika, oregano, garlic, cayenne, salt, and the juice from one lemon. Set aside.Heat oil in a pan on medium-high heat.Add shrimp to the pan and cook 1-2 minutes per side, until shrimp are opaque.Remove shrimp from pan.
- Lower heat to medium and add the butter to the hot pan. When the butter melts, add the remaining lemon juice and stir the liquid with a wooden spoon. Remove from heat.
- Divide the grits between two bowls and then top with the shrimp and the pan sauce. Serve immediately.
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