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Bill Leslie's Carolina Conversations

Best Shrimp & Grits

Posted May 17, 2006 6:24 a.m. EDT

Okay. It's May. The weather's warming up and we're getting in the mood for some serious seafood. My favorite recipe is shrimp & grits. Where do we go to get some in the Carolinas? Well, I have three favorite locations. I will rank them one, two and three but I absolutely love each recipe. I would like to know if I am missing some restaurant that also serves up the spicy Southern delicacy with flare, fire and fulfillment. Let me know if you agree. So, do I head to the coast for my top shrimp & grits grub? No! The road leads to Carrboro and the place with the piggies on top: Crook's Corner. May is a great time to eat there not just because of the shrimp & grits but you can also enjoy a coveted dessert. Honeysuckle sorbet at Crook's is a classic. But it is only served when honeysuckle is in bloom. You've got to try it at least once. Second on my list of best shrimp & grits recipes is Clawson's 1905 on the waterfront at Beaufort. That's Beaufort, NC! They serve up a heaping helping of this great Southern treat and I know you will enjoy it. Third is Carolina's Restaurant in Charleston. Their S&G recipe to very spicy but a joy to slowly consume and savor. Elizabeth Gardner tells me it's not hard to make a great version of the recipe at home but it may take you a few times to get it right. I found a recipe on-line from cooksrecipes.com that looked pretty good. Here goes:

Grits:4 cups water1 teaspoon salt1 cup grits1/2 cup butter2 cups (8 ounces) shredded Cheddar cheese1/4 teaspoon garlic powder3 eggs3/4 cup half-and-half
Combine water and salt in saucepan. Bring to a boil. Gradually add grits and cook for 5 minutes, stirring constantly. Remove from heat and stir in butter, Cheddar cheese and garlic powder.
Beat eggs and half-and-half together. Add to grits.
Pour mixture into greased 2 quart casserole. Bake at 350*F (175*C) for 45 minutes.
Shrimp:1/4 cup diced onion2 tablespoons butter, divided21 to 26 fresh shrimp, peeled and de-veined1 1/2 teaspoons herbs de provence1 1/2 teaspoons Cajun seasoning2 slices bacon or strips of ham, diced and cooked crispMinced fresh parsleyLemon wedges
Sauté onion in 1 tablespoon butter in saucepan until softened. Add shrimp, herbs de provence, Cajun seasoning and remaining 1 tablespoon butter. Cook, stirring constantly, until gray sauce forms.
Pour over grits and garnish with crumbled bacon or ham, parsley and lemon.
Serves 4.