Even before tricking this up with tomato butter, this is one of those dishes that just makes me happy. It’s creamy, it’s cheesy, it’s southern and it’s got shrimpy goodness. And bacon. A double hit of bacon, actually, because in addition to crunchy bacon happiness, the little shrimps are sautéed in bacon love. You heard me.
Oh and that tomato butter? Good day in the morning, that stuff is beyond awesome. Make a huge batch. And then, make another.
Southern Shrimp and Grits with Bacon & Tomato Butter
4 cups water
Freshly ground black pepper
1 cup stone-ground grits (you can use quick grits – but not instant! -, just cook as directed below)
2 tablespoons butter
1½ cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese
1 pound shrimp, peeled and deveined
Creole Seasoning (your fave or homemade, see below for recipe)
6 slices bacon, chopped
¼ cup dry white wine
4 teaspoons lemon juice
2 tablespoons chopped parsley
½ cup thinly sliced scallions
1 large clove garlic, grated
Tomato Butter (see recipe below)
Make tomato butter and set in the fridge to harden.
Bring water and 1 teaspoon of kosher salt to a boil. Slowly whisk in grits (to prevent clumping) and reduce the heat to low (the grits should occasionally pop with bubbles but not be very bubbly). Stirring occasionally, cook until water is absorbed, about 20 to 25 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in butter and cheese, season with pepper. (Be frugal with adding salt at this stage as the cheese is already salty and the sauce will also be seasoned with salt.)
Rinse shrimp and pat dry. Sprinkle on the Creole Seasoning. Fry the bacon in a large skillet until crispy; drain well. Drain off all but 2 tablespoons of the bacon grease and over medium heat, add shrimp to leftover bacon goodness and cook until just pink, about 1 minute. Add the white wine, lemon juice, parsley, scallions and garlic. Sauté the mixture for 3 minutes. Add in chopped bacon and remove from the heat.
Spoon grits into a serving bowl. Top with shrimp mixture, add a dollop of tomato butter and serve immediately.
1 pint cherry tomatoes (2 cups)
1 teaspoon olive oil
1 stick unsalted butter, slightly softened but still cool
¼ cup chopped fresh parsley
1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
Freshly ground black pepper
Toss tomatoes with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Using a rimmed baking sheet, broil tomatoes for about 5-7 minutes, shaking pan halfway through cooking time. Tomatoes should burst and become slightly juicy when ready. Let cool to room temperature.
Place softened butter into a medium bowl and set aside.
Using a food processor or stick blender, pulse tomatoes until coarsely chopped. Add tomatoes, parsley, lemon zest and salt and pepper to softened butter and still well to combine. Place in the serving container of your choice or, place softened tomato butter onto plastic wrap or wax paper and form into a log, twisting like a giant tootsie roll. Place butter into the fridge for at least an hour before use. Then, slice or smear and place on EVERYTHING. Really, this stuff is awesome on pasta, fish, chicken, steaks, bread, steamed veggies, poached eggs, scrambled eggs, cardboard…
2 tablespoons onion powder
2 tablespoons garlic powder
2 tablespoons dried oregano leaves
2 tablespoons dried sweet basil
1 tablespoon dried thyme leaves
1 tablespoon black pepper
1 tablespoon white pepper
1 tablespoon cayenne pepper
5 tablespoons paprika
Combine all ingredients and store in an airtight container. For a finer spice blend, pulse in a food processor or spice grinder (I use an old coffee grinder).