Breakfast? Lunch? Dinner? Yes, please! I’ll take a heaping helping of mouthwatering shrimp and grits any time of the day or night. This dish features bold and spicy shrimp served on top of flavorful, cheesy grits. C’est si bon!
When my son sets his mind on something, he’s relentless in his pursuit to get it. So, when he decided he wanted shrimp and grits a couple of months ago, he was quick to remind me of it … nearly EVERY single day.
Little by little, he wore me down until I finally made some for dinner. I’m not sure why it took so long to make it, because, like him, I love the bold, creamy, and spicy flavors of shrimp and grits.
This isn’t a Cajun dish I had the joy of eating as a child, though. Sure, I had my fair share of grits as a child. And shrimp, well, that was a staple in my diet. However, I didn’t eat them together as a delectable dish until well into my adulthood. That’s because shrimp and grits — while a true Southern dish — didn’t originate in Cajun country. Over time, however, the dish has most certainly taken on the flavors of Cajun fare.
There’s nothing complicated or fancy about this dish, though the savory results would make it seem otherwise. I cook the grits in chicken broth instead of water and add heaps of cheese to make them rich and creamy. While the grits are cooking, I make the shrimp sauce using a generous portion of onions, andouille sausage, and Cajun seasonings. The result is a dish that’s full of flavor with just the right spice.
C’est si bon!
- I trust in my Classic Cajun cookware for this recipe. It’s a must-have pot that I use all the time. It’s so versatile, cooks evenly, and will surely last me a lifetime.
- A nonstick saucepan like the T-fal Titanium Saucepan or a top quality, Italian made Glamour Stone Saucepan are perfect choices to cook grits and help avoid the sticking that often happens with grits.
- Serve with a crusty French bread for a true Cajun experience.
- A small green salad or side of collard greens make for a nice balanced meal. If you want to go all Cajun, try some roasted or fried okra.
- If you happen to have leftovers, store the grits and shrimp separately in airtight containers in the fridge for up to three days. Leftover grits get clumpy, so add a little extra chicken broth or water before warming in the microwave.
- Toss any leftover shrimp sauce into a pot of Ramen noodles. Cajun shrimp and Asian noodles – that’s a must-go meal that so, so good.
- I find andouille sausage tastes best, though there are wonderful alternatives. The spices and smokey flavors of Tasso ham make an outstanding substitute for andouille. You can also use crispy fried bacon, which may require a little extra smoked paprika and spices.
- Deveining shrimp is a personal choice, though I always recommend taking a few extra minutes to do it. Why? Because that vein, while not technically a vein, is the shrimp’s digestive tract. When you see that dark colored strip on the shrimp’s back, it means it’s filled with grit and waste — yep, that means poop.
- Want a little tail (on the shrimp that is)? For a fancier presentation, go ahead and leave the tail on the shrimp. Some swear that the tail adds flavor to the dish or can make the shrimp look larger. Some even eat the tail (not for me, thanks). I prefer to remove the tail for this dish, because it’s easier to clean when removing the tail and storing and rewarming leftovers without the tail is more desirable.
- Overcooked shrimp is tough and chewy, so be careful when cooking. Shrimp is fully cooked when it turns a bright pink color. It usually only takes 2 – 3 minutes for perfectly cooked shrimp.
- There are several varieties of grits: stone ground, hominy, quick, instant. You can also choose from yellow or white grits. I use Quaker Old Fashioned Grits in this recipe, mostly because it cooks evenly and has a smoother texture. If you plan to use another variety, be sure to follow the directions on the packaging of whatever grits you use to ensure proper cooking times.
- There are many options when it comes to white cheese. I like a jack cheese like Monterey Jack or a gruyere for a nuttier, bolder taste. A parmesan-Reggiano blend is also a tasty choice, though you’ll want to reduce the amount to 2 cups. I’ve also used shredded cheddar, which gives the grits a yellowish hue. I say get creative and try different cheeses. Let me know which one you like best.
- If grits get too thick while setting, add a little more chicken broth or heavy cream and stir well just before serving.
- So many believe that Cajun cooking means “spicy hot” food. For some that may be true, and I encourage those to add as much seasonings as necessary to reach the desired heat level. For me, though, I believe Cajun food should be highly flavorful with spices that don’t numb the taste buds.
- What exactly is Cajun seasoning here? In short, it’s a combination of a bunch of seasonings to create that bold, spicy flavor. These seasonings are staples in my pantry and include cayenne pepper, chili powder, celery salt, ground mustard, onion salt, garlic powder, thyme, dried basil, sage, and oregano — and whatever else I may decide to throw in the pot. The best way to find your favorite level is by adding spices and test-taste as you cook. Add more until you find the flavor and heat level that works for you. For this recipe, you can take an easier path for your Cajun seasoning like I did and use Tony Chachere’s Creole Seasoning. It has the right combination of all the flavors I like and takes the guess work out of how much of each spice to add to the pot. A teaspoon or two of Tony’s is all you need. Yummy!
- Confession: I added white wine to this recipe because I was drinking white wine while cooking that night. It’s not necessary, though it does add a little extra flavor and helps to deglaze the pan after frying the sausage. You can safely omit this step if you’d like.
- Dried parsley is a good substitute for fresh parsley. Don’t have either? No worries. You can safely omit from the recipe without sacrificing quality or tasty results.
If you enjoyed this recipe, please consider leaving a comment and star rating below. It’s always refreshing to hear how others like a recipe, find success with it, or tweak to suit. I’d love to hear from you!