Fresh Corn Grits with Shrimp & Roasted Pecan Butter

Another Easter weekend food tradition in our family is to eat shrimp and grits as a celebration of one of our favorite places- Charleston, South Carolina. The spring sunshine reminds me of how lovely it is there. It is a particularly special place for us because it’s where my husband and I met. ❤ Charleston is also an incredible food city.

I really like the story behind this amazing version. Apparently, it was created on Top Chef season 5 by Jeff McInnis, owner of Miami’s Yardbird restaurant. He was challenged to create a shrimp and grits dish without using grits. He made fresh corn “grits” using fresh corn, but, the best part was that he incorporated pecan butter in the grits because of a memory of eating fresh nut butter from his grandmother’s pecan tree. The fresh nut butter put this dish over the top. Delicious. I wish that I had the imagination to dream up a dish like this one.

This was my husband’s favorite shrimp and grits (thus far), and I’ve made quite a few versions. I pointed out that it may be because this dish didn’t actually have grits. 🙂 This recipe was adapted from Food and Wine, contributed by Jeff McInnis. I increased the amount of fresh corn in the grits and slightly increased the amount of prosciutto. Next time, I may reduce the amount of lager. I may increase the amount of grits as well- we wanted more!

Yield: Serves 4

For the Roasted Pecan Butter:

  • 1 cup raw pecans
  • 1/2 tsp canola oil
  • coarse salt, to taste

For the Grits:

  • 6 large ears of corn, shucked and coarsely grated on a box grater (2 cups pulp and juice)
  • 1/4 cup milk, plus more for stirring/serving, as desired
  • coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • roasted pecan butter (about 1/4 cup), directions below

For the Shrimp Sauté:

  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 3 to 4 ounces thinly sliced country ham or prosciutto, cut into strips
  • 1/2 large sweet onion, thinly sliced
  • 6 ounces sugar snap peas, trimmed
  • 1 cup fresh corn kernels (from 2 ears)
  • coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 pound shelled and deveined large shrimp
  • 1/2 cup to 1 cup lager, to taste (I used 1 cup but may reduce it next time)
  • lemon wedges, for serving, optional

Make the Roasted Pecan Butter:

  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees, preferably on convection.
  2. Roast the pecans about 5 minutes, or until lightly browned and fragrant.
  3. Process toasted pecans in a mini food processor with canola oil until smooth, about 2 minutes.
  4. Season with salt to taste.

Make the Grits:

  1. In a saucepan, simmer the grated corn and juices with the 1/4 cup of milk over moderate heat, stirring, until thick, 4 minutes.
  2. Season with salt and pepper and fold in the pecan butter; keep warm.

Make the Shrimp Sauté:

  1. In a large, deep skillet, melt 4 tablespoons of the butter.
  2. Add the prosciutto and cook over moderately high heat, stirring, until lightly browned, about 5 minutes.
  3. Add the onion, snap peas and corn, season with salt and pepper and cook until crisp-tender, about 5 minutes.
  4. Add the shrimp and cook, stirring, until they just begin to curl, about 3 minutes.
  5. Add the lager and bring to a boil.
  6. Simmer, stirring frequently, until the shrimp are cooked through and the liquid is slightly reduced, about 3 minutes.
  7. Swirl in the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter.

To Serve:

  1. Whisk a little milk into the grits so it’s the consistency of polenta; heat until warm.
  2. Spoon the grits into shallow bowls, top with the shrimp sauté and serve at once.
  3. Serve with lemon wedges, as desired.

One Year Ago: Seared Scallops & Cauliflower Grits

Two Years Ago: Classic Shrimp & Grits

Three Years Ago: Shrimp with Fresh Corn Grits

Four Years Ago: Shrimp & Grits with Tomatoes

Five Years Ago: Hominy Grill’s Shrimp & Grits

Shrimp & Grits with Tomatoes

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We have a few Easter traditions in our home… the neighborhood Easter Egg Hunt, writing a family member’s name on each Easter egg before dyeing it, following the string left by the Easter Bunny, and eating a classic Charleston dish, Shrimp and Grits, on Easter day. A newer tradition has been to attend the sunrise Easter mass at our beach- which starts at 5:30am!! We have only made it 3 or 4 times… the problem is that everyone is exhausted for the rest of the day. We will see how long that tradition lasts! 🙂 This year my kids also made bunny “peep-ka-bobs” or “shish-ka-peeps” (the name is still being worked out…) as an Easter treat. So cute & sweet! This new project is likely to become an annual tradition. 🙂

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This version of shrimp and grits has a wonderful tomato sauce served over parmesan cheese grits. I usually make cheese grits with sharp cheddar cheese and this was such a fabulous alternative. We preferred it! The cheese added just the perfect amount of salty deliciousness. This recipe was adapted from Martha Stewart Living. I used Bob’s Red Mill Organic Coarse Ground Yellow Grits. Although a simple dish, the preparation usually requires a group effort because everything is done at the last minute for the best result. I suppose another one of our Easter traditions is to cook this meal together! 🙂

Yield: Serves 8

  • 4 cups milk
  • 6 tablespoons butter
  • 4 teaspoons coarse salt, plus more to taste
  • 2 cups coarse ground yellow grits
  • 2 sweet onions, coarsely chopped
  • 6 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup white wine
  • 4 bay leaves
  • 2 cans (28 ounces each) whole tomatoes, coarsely chopped, juices reserved
  • Pinch of cayenne pepper
  • 2 pounds large shrimp, shells removed, tails intact
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 1/3 to 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, plus a bit more shaved for garnish, if desired
  • 1/2 cup loosely packed fresh herbs, such as parsley, oregano, and thyme, coarsely chopped in a food processor
  1. For the grits: Heat 4 cups water, milk, 2 tablespoons butter, and salt to a gentle boil in a medium saucepan. Sprinkle in the grits. Reduce the heat to simmer, and cook, stirring often with a wooden spoon, until the mixture is smooth, thick, and falls easily from a spoon, 15 to 20 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, prepare tomatoes: Add 2 tablespoons butter to the skillet. Saute onion and garlic until soft and translucent, 2 to 3 minutes. Pour in white wine, and cook until dry, 2 to 3 minutes. Add bay leaves, and stir in tomatoes and reserved juice. Season with cayenne pepper. Reduce the heat, and simmer until slightly thickened and the tomatoes have broken down, about 10 minutes.
  3. For the shrimp: Heat the remaining 2 tablespoons butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat to sizzling. Add shrimp, season with salt and black pepper, and saute to sear on both sides, about 2 minutes per side.
  4. When grits are thickened, stir in heavy cream and grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese. Keep covered with a tight-fitting lid until ready to serve. When tomatoes are ready, remove the skillet from the heat, and stir in the chopped herbs. Cover, and keep warm until shrimp are cooked.
  5. To serve, put a heaping spoonful of grits onto a soup plate. Top with the tomatoes, and arrange the shrimp around the plate. Garnish with freshly shaved Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, if desired.

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One Year Ago:

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