Serve Up a Southern Classic in Small Batch Style
Posted on April 15 2018
The Gullah Geechee, descendants of slaves from West Africa, mention meals resembling shrimp and grits as early as 1750. The meal was most likely created to take full advantage of local resources available on the coast. Gullahs would catch shrimp and other fish in nets and cook them in many ways, including with grits.
This now classic dish made the climb to national popularity with the help of Chef Bill Neal at his Chapel Hill, NC restaurant, Crook’s Corner. Neal was quite familiar with the dish being served as breakfast in his hometown of Charleston, but in the early 1980s he elevated the dish to dinner.
Bill Smith, Jr. is now the chef at Crook’s Corner and continues Neal’s tradition to the delight of locals and visitors alike.
Now, you can enjoy the original recipe in this gorgeous handcrafted bowl designed and created by Gretchen Quinn in Raleigh, NC.
Crook’s Corner Shrimp & Grits
Chef Bill Smith Jr. says they still make it according to Neal’s original recipe, but they skip the nutmeg he included in the book. (Supposedly, Neal didn’t use it either.) Makes 4 servings.
· 4½ cups water
· 1 teaspoon salt
· 1 cup grits, preferably stone-ground
· Butter, Tabasco, and white pepper to taste
· ¾ cup grated sharp cheddar cheese
· 1 pound fresh shrimp
· 6 slices bacon
· Peanut oil
· 2 cups sliced mushrooms
· 1 cup finely sliced green onions
· 1 large clove garlic, peeled
· 4 teaspoons lemon juice
· 2 tablespoons fresh, chopped parsley
· Salt and pepper
Grits: Bring salted water to strong boil in a saucepan. Slowly sift the grits through one hand into the water while stirring with a whisk in the other hand. When all the grits have been added, continue stirring and reduce heat to low until only an occasional bubble breaks the surface.
Continue cooking 30 to 40 minutes, stirring frequently to prevent scorching. Beat in a good quantity of butter, Tabasco, and white pepper, then stir in the cheese. Hold in a warm place or in the top of a double boiler over simmering water.
Turn shrimp as they start to color, add the mushrooms and sauté about 4 minutes. Turn occasionally and add the green onions. Add the garlic through a press and stir around. Season with lemon juice, a dash or two of Tabasco, parsley, and salt and pepper.
Divide grits among four plates. Spoon the shrimp over the grits and serve immediately.
From "Bill Neal’s Southern Cooking" (UNC Press, 1989 edition)