Anne Byrn’s Favorite Shrimp and Grits
Hands On Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 40 minutes
1 pound shrimp, peeled, deveined and tails removed
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
Pinch cayenne pepper
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 cup finely chopped onion
1/2 cup finely chopped red bell pepper
3 cups water
1 cup heavy cream
1/2 teaspoon hot sauce, or to taste
1 cup white or yellow stone-ground grits
1 to 1 1/2 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
Heat the oven to 375 degrees.
In a medium bowl, combine the shrimp, olive oil, garlic and cayenne. Season with salt and pepper, and toss to evenly coat the shrimp with the spice mixture.
In a large oven-proof skillet, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the onion and pepper and cook, stirring frequently, until softened, 5 to 7 minutes. Stir in the water, cream and hot sauce, increase the heat, and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low and whisk in the grits. Cook, stirring frequently, until the grits have thickened, about 5 minutes.
Remove from the heat and stir in the cheddar and Parmesan until melted. Arrange the shrimp in the middle of the grits mixture, pushing them down into the grits. Bake until the shrimp have just cooked through, 8 to 10 minutes. Serve warm.
About the recipe
There are three secrets to Anne Byrn’s favorite shrimp and grits: The first is to use really fresh, and preferably local, shrimp. But if you cannot find local shrimp, then do the next best thing and buy frozen Argentinian Red Shrimp from Trader Joe’s. They are sweet and more lobster-like in flavor than most shrimp. Secondly, don’t overcook those shrimp. With the method in this recipe, you cannot overcook them because they are nestled raw right in the grits and baked to doneness. And lastly, use stone-ground grits. They have more texture and more corn flavor, and they make a huge difference. Byrn prefers white grits, but yellow grits are fine, too. If you cannot find them locally, look for mail-order sources such as The Old Mill in Sevierville.
One final note: You’ll notice that the grits don’t cook for very long on the stovetop. Don’t fret; they’ll continue to cook until tender in the oven.