Monday, October 15, 2018

Browned Butter Shrimp and Grits featuring Sumter County Shrimp

Doesn't this look delicious? Well, it was.  I give the credit to the fresh shrimp from Sumter County Shrimp! These puppies were alive this past Thursday morning going about their shrimp-y business.  Harvested Thursday, into my possession via cooler Friday, cleaned and cooked Saturday.   Hard to get any fresher than that folks.  I've blogged about these shrimp before (last year). This is their 2nd year of harvest and I'm a huge fan!  I made this same recipe last year, with super fresh Sumter County Shrimp, and used the photo for my blog header, check it out! ⬆⬆

Here is a link to their page - Sumter County Shrimp, if you are in Alabama reading this you should totally make the trek to their farm in Bellamy, to Tuscaloosa, or Birmingham to get them! More details on their site, on sale through the first weekend in November.  Pics from my first batch are below. 

On to the recipe.  There are a MILLION shrimp and grits recipes.   Researching the "traditional" low country method, the consensus is a simple approach.  Shrimp simply cooked in fat over morning "grits" that were common back in the day for breakfast.  That's right, this started out as a breakfast dish (Breakfast is the best, am I right?).  It's evolved over the years and now seems to be on every gourmet chef's menu across the Southeast and beyond.  I've made a more cajun version with andouille sausage, peppers, and onions, and it's great, but keep going back to this version.  The simplicity really lets the shrimp shine when using good quality shrimp like I am doing here.  

For the Grits, I used smoked gouda, freshly shredded (the food processor attachment I have is my most used kitchen tool hands down), and stone ground grits.  You can use instant or quick-cooking grits, but should seriously give the stone ground ones a try.   If you aren't using stone ground, check the type and use the appropriate grit to liquid ratio.  If you start cooking these before you do anything else, they will be done when the shrimp are done if you are going to be peeling and maybe de-heading a bunch of shrimp.   For some extra shrimpiness, use shrimp stock vs water or chicken stock to cook your grits.  I made a huge batch of shrimp stock with the heads and shells of last years harvest, froze it in 2 cup increments.  You can make a quick stock with heads and shells in 15 mins, or go all out and throw in veggies and seasonings and let it simmer a couple of hours.  

Stone Ground Grits

4 cups water or stock of your choice
1 cup stone ground grits
8 ounces gouda cheese, freshly grated
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated black pepper

1 cup whole milk or half and half


  1. Bring the stock to a boil, then turn down the heat to low (to prevent scorching your grits).
  2. Add the grits and stir for a minute or two, don't want to burn the grits on the bottom.
  3. Cover, let simmer for 15-20 minutes, stirring every 5 minutes or so. 
  4. Add butter and milk.  Bring back up to a simmer stirring constantly.  Let simmer again for 20-25 minutes.  
  5. Add salt and pepper, stir. 
  6. Remove from heat and add in cheese, stir, and cover to keep warm and help melt the cheese.  Set aside. 


1.5 lbs pound raw peeled shrimp
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated black pepper
1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
1/4 teaspoon chipotle chili powder
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 garlic cloves, finely minced
2 tablespoons freshly snipped chives

2 ears grilled sweet corn, cut from the cob


  1. Pat the shrimp completely dry with paper towels and place in a large bowl.  
  2. Mix together your seasonings starting with salt through cumin. 
  3. Pour the seasonings over the shrimp and mix until evenly coated.  
  4. Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat and add the butter. 
  5. Once it’s melted and begins to sizzle, add the shrimp in batches (don’t overcrowd it!) and cook on both sides until pink.  This will only take a minutes or so per side.  I've found once I get them all in the pan, it's time to turn the first ones. The butter will brown as the shrimp cooks and you can whisk it occasionally to prevent it from burning. 
  6. When the shrimp is finished, remove them all to a plate. 
  7. Stir in the garlic into the melted butter and cook for 10-15 seconds, don't burn the garlic. Remove pan from the heat.   You will drizzle this over the shrimp. 
  8. To serve: Ladle the grits on a plate or bowl.  Put the shrimp on top.  Drizzle the garlic browned butter over the shrimp.  Sprinkle grilled corn and chives over the top. Eat! 

I had a helper this time cooking the shrimp and she did great.  You want to cook them in an even layer, not crowding them, in multiple batches. Don't overcook them!   

TIP: So how do you know if you've overcooked them?  I found this helpful - If they look like a "C" they are cooked.  If they curl up into a concentric "O" with top and bottom overlapping, they are Overcooked.  C = cooked.  O = overcooked.  They will keep cooking slightly too when taken off the heat, so keep that in mind.  

Side item suggestion - Balsamic mushrooms.  My husband suggested to add some acidity to balance out the rich grits.  Great idea by him.  Saute some sliced mushrooms, drizzle with a couple tablespoons balsamic vinegar and white wine.  Continue to saute' for a couple of minutes, then remove with a slotted spoon from the liquid.   

Crusty bread is great too! We slice ours, drizzle with olive oil, salt and pepper, and brown in the oven at 450 for 3 mins or so, until just starting to brown.  

Happy cooking!  

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